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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Journalist to give Amanpour lecture at URI, April 3

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Author of Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War

KINGSTON, R.I. –March 21, 2008—Journalist Jimmie Briggs will speak on the global challenges facing youth in the 21st Century at the University of Rhode Island on Thursday, April 3 at 7 p.m., Independence Auditorium, 60 Upper College Road, Kingston. His talk, the inaugural Amanpour lecture, is free and open to the public.

He will draw parallels between what youth in America experience compared with their peers in Africa, Latin America, and other regions. Briggs will also discuss media coverage of foreign affairs and policy and explore how popular culture represents contemporary global issues, and its impact on our perception. In this context, Briggs will show a 10-minute video of a documentary-in-progress based on his child soldiers book.

Briggs’ personal mission of his decade-long career as a journalist has been to share with the world the voices and stories of the disenfranchised and voiceless.

The release of his first book in 2005 entitled, Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go to War, was the culmination of more than six years of painstaking, investigative journalism. The book chronicles the personal stories of several child soldiers who participated in conflicts within the countries of Afghanistan, Uganda, Rwanda, Colombia, and Sri Lanka.

Briggs is the first African American to be appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador and Special Envoy for Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations. In addition, Briggs was accorded the honor of serving as a special consultant for the United Nations Special Session on Children.

Briggs graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude with a degree in philosophy from Morehouse College. Following college, his passion to write took him to Washington D.C. where he parlayed a part-time job in the mailroom of The Washington Post into opportunities to write entertainment reviews for the paper. He was hired as an assistant editor at EMERGE Magazine. His love of reporting and investigative journalism took him to LIFE. Briggs has published in a broad spectrum of publications, The New York Times Magazine, People, Vibe, Bust, and Fortune.

For a number of years, he has taught writing and reporting to young people in Spanish Harlem for the International Center for Photography and Boys Harbor, Inc. Further, he has also worked with the organization Seeds of Peace in both New York City and Kabul, Afghanistan teaching young people in violence-affected communities how to tell their own stories and document their own experiences. In addition, Briggs has also served as an adjunct professor of investigative journalism at the New School for Social Research.

The importance of Briggs work has been recognized nationally and internationally. He has received a number of distinguished fellowships, including The Alicia Patterson Fellowship, Dart Trauma Fellowship and Individual Project Fellowship from the Open Society Institute to study war-affected children. In addition, Briggs received the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust Media Award, The National Association of Black Journalists Magazine Award, and The John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Journalism.

Briggs speaks to various organizations, religious and academic institutions on the issues that affect children engulfed in armed conflict.

CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, URI class of 1983, HON ’95 endowed the annual speaker series. The series is designed to help the University bring well-respected professional journalists to campus.