Bright Spots: First Black female Crimson White editor-in-chief says representation matters
The Crimson White is the student run newspaper at the University of Alabama. This year, the prestigious paper has an Editor-in-Chief who is making history of her own. Rising senior Ashlee Woods from Middletown, Delaware is the publication’s first Black female Editor-in-Chief.
“You really don’t think about being the first of something when you go out to pursue an opportunity that you have,” Woods said. “When I decided to apply, I really wasn’t thinking about that. I just thought that my track record and my accomplishments in student media were good enough to give me this type of position and a chance to lead the CW. I was just
really excited to take this challenge on and to really diversify the content and stories that we are telling at the CW.”
It may be surprising that this barrier is just now being broken at the capstone in 2023, but Woods said she’s honored to be the one to do it.
“It’s a little bit surprising, but also sad at the same time, because I know there have been talented Black women who have come before me that were more than capable to lead this position, but maybe didn’t have the support that I have had during my time at student media to take on this type of goal and this type of challenge,” Woods said. “Once again, I am just very grateful that it was me. This barrier needed to be broken, so I am willing to break that barrier and I am just super excited. I hope that I am not the last and I want to make sure that I put some practices in place that ensure that I am not the last Black female editor of the CW. ”
Ashley said one of the things that keeps her going is thinking about the young women who will come behind her one day, but today are looking up to her.
“Thinking about little girls who are looking up to me is just really crazy,” Woods said. “I really want them to know that their voice is important and their stories that they are writing and creating are very important and necessary to be displayed in media. Representation in media matters, no matter how many people say that it doesn’t matter, it really does. You can see it with what’s going on with The Little Mermaid and Halle Bailey. All the little girls are just so excited to have an Ariel that looks like them. Representation matters and so I just really want to encourage them to keep writing, to keep designing, to keep taking photographs, because you never know where it is going to take you.”
When it comes to leaving her mark on the nearly 130-year-old newspaper, Ashlee Woods hopes it’s one that will help pave the way for others like her who may have been underrepresented.
“I really just hope that at the end of my tenure here at the CW, that I give people here who previously did not have a platform in student media a chance to share their stories and see that their stories are important. As a person who has been told all her life to simmer down and not share everything, I thought it was important to give a voice to those who have been historically underrepresented in media. As a Black woman in this position, I really think it’s important to make that a forefront of one of my goals, and that’s how I really want to leave my mark.”