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Frank E. Bolden, Jr.

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Frank E. Bolden, Jr. (1912-2003) was a legendary Pittsburgh historian and pioneering African American reporter for the Pittsburgh Courier, at one time the preeminent African American newspaper in the country. Bolden’s beat was the thriving African American community of Pittsburgh called the Hill District. He distinguished himself as a newspaperman during WW II when he was one of two African Americans to receive press credentials to cover the war. During his time as a war correspondent, he wrote about black engineering troops and their backbreaking task of building a road through the jungles of Burma. During this time, Bolden also interviewed Indian leaders Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, and spent time as a houseguest of each.

The early years

Bolden was born in Washington, PA, to son of Frank Bolden, Sr., the town’s first African American mail carrier. His father told him, “When you’re average, you are just as far from the bottom as you are from the top.”

After graduating high school, he attended the University of Pittsburgh to study law. Later, he switched to biology. While at Pitt, he played the clarinet and became the first African American in the university’s marching band. To earn extra money, he began writing freelance articles for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the most influential newspapers in the country.  Even though, he graduated from Pitt with an “A” average, he was denied admission into the university’s medical school. At that time, most medical schools denied entrance to African Americans.

A reporter is born

Bolden sought employment as a teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools but was turned down.  He returned to the Pittsburgh Courier, where he worked as feature and general assignment reporter, covering the bustling social and cultural scene along Wylie Avenue in the Hill District. Nearly every icon in the world of jazz performed in the Hill District, in legendary places such as the Crawford Grill. Bolden interviewed most of them, including Pittsburgh-born Billy Eckstine, Sarah Vaughn and Count Basie. He also covered Negro Baseball League, interviewing stars Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson, among others.

World War II

Bolden became one of two African American reporters to be credentialed as a war correspondent when the Pittsburgh Courier submitted his name for credentials. He chronicled the exploits of African American troops for the National Negro Publishers Association, which distributed stories to African American newspapers across the country.

While covering the China-Burma-India theater, he wrote about the “hellish” conditions under which African American troops built the Burma Road.  Some troops were killed by Japanese sniper fire, while others died from cobra bites and jungle fever.  In India, he was granted an interview with Mahatma Gandhi. Instead of

a couple of hours, the war correspondent spent 15 days with the Mahatma.  Later, Bolden spent 12 days as a houseguest of Jawaharlal Nehru.

Back in the states

Bolden returned to work at the Pittsburgh Courier as a feature writer, after turning down offers from Life Magazine and the New York Times. At that time the Courier had a circulation of 400,000. Eventually, Bolden became the newspaper’s city editor.  He was a tough task master, especially around deadline time, said Courier reporter Phyllis T. Garland in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, following Bolden’s death in 2003. “He would ride his reporters at deadline time,” said Garland, a professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. “He would prod them, like a rider with spurs on a horse. He could be very insistent. Sometimes the women would cry.”

After the Courier

After leaving the Courier in 1962, Bolden joined the New York Times. He did not stay there long, and soon joined NBC-radio and then NBC-TV.  Within a year, he became a correspondent for the “Huntley-Brinkley Report.”

Once, he returned to Pittsburgh, Bolden became the assistant director of information and community relations for the Pittsburgh Board of Education, retiring after 17 years.

Later years

Bolden was much-sought-after for his vast knowledge of Pittsburgh’s African American community and its history. He could talk for hours and often did after one question by an interviewer. His home was filled with newspaper articles and documents from his decades of reporting.

Each summer, the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation holds the Frank Bolden Urban Journalism Workshop for high school students, named in honor the pioneering journalist.


1. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Friday, August 29, 2003

2. NABJ Journal, Spring Issue 2003


4. Humanity Docs


Midterm: The Sistah Has Left the Building

Practically, my entire life I’ve written about something or someone. When I was 11, I started writing my autobiography.  However, my mother found it. She was less than thrilled that I was writing about being a foster child. I stopped writing my autobiography.  In the four decades that have past since then,  I’ve written plenty — poems, essays, research papers, news articles,feature stories,  gossip columns, press releases, letters, speeches, etc. Those things were relatively easy.

But creating a persona and sustaining it is hard. Is it too late to become a brain surgeon?

I have taken on this persona of this sassy, been there, done that, midlle-aged black woman. But really, I,m  just a black woman, a sistah of a certain age, who writes sassy but really isn’t all that sassy.  Well, maybe a little bit. Yes, I’ve had some good moments. I’ve had some not so good moments.

Who wants to listen to my tales of life in the mid-range, somewhere between Oprah and the little PR/Marketing girls who pass out the folders at press events?

I feel like the my Writing for Interactive Media  assignments are huge waves that overcoming me. I am drowning, but I don’t want to. Like Susan Hayward  in that movie based on a true story, I want to live!

In order to live, I have to do something different. I have to throw myself a lifeline. I’m going to change my blog. I want to write about things that I’m passionate about that don’t involve personal angst. I’m changing my blog to Media Darling! It will be about the media, not just how it handles certain news stories, but how the media handles the media. I think this will give me more to write about. So many people don’t know what real journalism is or should be. I believe with this blog, I can use my journalism background to ask questions that aren’t being asked and to give a perspective that is many times lacking in today’s newsrooms.

While the country is more diverse, newsrooms seem to be going back to the days when the only people of color in the newsroom were emptying the trash.  What’s a brother or a sistah got to do to host a show on CNN?

Like CNN political contributor Roland Martin, @rolandmartin, I will bring the funk!  Hoping readers of my new blog will be able to stand the smell.

Sistah Certain’s Guide to Soulful Fried Chicken

As a Sistah of a Certain Age, I have very fond memories of my mother making  crispy, mouthwatering fried chicken. Since,  I am more health conscious than my mother was at my age, I rarely fry anything these days. However, if one is to partake of fried chicken and it’s accompanying calories, it’s best to make it worthwhile.  The following recipe will result in fried chicken so good, it will make you slap your momma. I do not advise this because if your momma is like mine, you might not live to make this recipe again

Step 1.

You’ll need eight pieces of chicken or one whole chicken cut up into pieces. (It’s cheaper to buy a whole chicken and cut it up but aint nobody got time for that!). You can have more chicken pieces or less. You will also need a skillet, preferably one made of cast iron. But any deep frying pan will do. I dated a guy once who went to antique stores and got old cast iron frying pans  and restored them.  I was scheming on one of those cast iron pans for the longest, but alas, only ended up with an old German roaster.

Step 2.

Fill the frying pan with vegetable oil, peanut oil or canola oil.  But if you really want to be old school, get a block of lard or shortening like Crisco. Put a medium flame under your pan. Your oil must be hot but not so hot that the chicken burns before it gets done.

Step 3

Rinse your chicken off under cold water

Step 4.

Pat chicken dry with paper towel

Step 5.

Season your chicken. This step is VERY important. Nothing worse than pieces of crispy tastelessness trying to pass themselves off as delicious southern fried chicken. You can use good old salt and pepper, Lawry’s seasoned salt, Accent Flavor Enhancer or whatever seasoning you like, but SEASON YOUR CHICKEN.

Step 6.

Put some all-purpose flour in a bowl large enough to hold at least half of your chicken pieces. You need enough flour to coat the pieces thoroughly.  If you’d like you can dip in chicken pieces in egg batter before coating with flour.

Step 7.

Check to see if your grease is hot enough by sprinkling a few drops of water into the pan.  You can do this by putting a few drops of water on your fingers and flicking water into the pan. If it pops loudly, grease is hot enough. If you only get a few low bubbles, it’s not hot enough. Be careful, grease can splatter. Don’t stand directly over the pan looking into to see if it pops.

Step 8.

Once grease is hot enough, shake off excess flour from chicken pieces and ease pieces into the pan. Do not drop the pieces into the grease. The legs and thighs will take longer than breast even though the breast is bigger because dark meat takes longer than white meat.  So, cook  legs and thighs together in the pan. These pieces should take about 14-15  minutes to cook. The breasts and wings will take a few minutes less. Cook the pieces until they are golden brown.

Step 9

Remove chicken pieces from frying pan and place in a bowl or pan lined with paper towel or brown paper bags to absorb excess grease.  Allow chicken to cool a bit, but enjoy while still warm. Remember, don’t slap your momma!

Why Older Women Should Be Banned from Blogging

If Erma Bombeck were alive today would she be blogging? God, I hope not.

You would think that women over 50 discovered everything there is to know about life, motherhood and  relationships, and are hell-bent on cramming that knowledge down our throats on a regular basis via blogging. But why?

The world has changed so much since Madonna was a virgin. But for some strange reason women of her generation must virtually pull the world to their bosom and then sit the down for “the talk.”  It’s not necessarily “the talk”, it’s really a talk about everything, aging, how not to age,  feminism, singleism (after 45 no one really cares if you’re single except you and your mother), and Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.

Youth isn’t wasted on the young. We’re young. We’ve got plenty of time to figure it all out. But somebody (older women bloggers) want to tell help us avoid the pits they fell into. Hey, falling into the pis is half the fun. Crawling out of the pit is the other half.  Yes, we know you were discriminated against. Yes, we know you did not make what men made for the same work. Yes, we know you were sexually harassed on the job. Yes, we know you could only get so far before you hit that damn glass ceiling that Hillary put all those cracks in. And yes, we know during another era they probably would have made the black woman sweep up the glass that fell from the glass ceiling.

But that’s all over now. Didn’t you see how many female senators were elected to the U.S. Congress last fall? Two of the debates during the 2012 presidential election were moderated by women, old women but still . . . . Plus, your beloved Hillary may even run for POTUS in 2016.  My God what more do you old women want?

We’re sorry but us young women don’t have time to read your advice, your insights, your horror stories about life before diaper services or nannies. If we want to know what life was like in the old days, we’ll watch “Sex and the City.”  When we need real advice, we just watch “Girls” on HBO.  I mean that Lena Dunham knows what it’s all about. She’s nearly 27.

We truly have nothing against women over 50. There are some really fabulous women in your generation, there’s uh, Katie Couric and um, um, and that women’s lib woman, Gloria somebody. We realize that the women of your era have made sacrifices and opened doors for previous generations, and thankfully banned those hideous polyester pantsuits that grandma used to wear.  We also think it is wonderful that you have embraced technology and are using it correctly unlike grandma who doesn’t know whether she’s getting a text or a phone call.

However, if you never blogged about anything else, we would be okay. Stop trying to open our eyes. We don’t need your advice. We don’t need your wisdom. That’s what Google and Wikipedia are for.

Sistah of a Certain Age

Sistah Certain , 02/07/18

Editorial director, Huffington Post Lifestyle

Sistah Certain (sistahcertain) on Twitter

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Sistah Certain. @sistahcertain A Sistah of a Certain Age no longer bound by the ignorance of youth. I soar to new heights of assuredness because the rest and the best is yet to come.

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This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (November 2010)
Sistah Certain
Born Sistah Certain born Marlena Denise Gordon
(1961-07-25) July 25, 1961 (age 56)
Harlem, New York, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Quinnipiac University, MS Interactive Media
Occupation Editorial Director Huffington Post Lifestyle
Years active 2014-present
Height 5′ 6″ (1.63 m)
Spouse(s) Stephan Johnson  (2014-present)
Children Camille, LaNette, Renee and Gene from previous marriage
Parents Mamie Lee Gordon and Russell Aubrey Gordon

Sistah Certain is the pen name of American editor/blogger/journalist and media consultant Marlena Denise Gordon (born July 25, 1961).  She has become well known for her Sistah of a Certain Age blog about her life as a 50-plus African American woman. The blog morphed into a radio show focusing on well-known and not-so-well-known African American woman 50-plus years of age. The radio show led to stints as a lifestyles contributor on CNN, MSNBC and NBC. She was then picked to revamp the lifestyle section of the Huffington Post becoming the online news site’s first African American editorial director in 2018.

  1. Sistah Certain | LinkedIn certain/7/2a/180Cached
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    New York City  – Editorial Director — Huffington Post Lifestyle
    Producer/Radio Show Host — Sistah of a Certain Age

    View Sistah Certain’s  professional profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world’s largest business network, helping professionals like Sistah Certain discover

Sistah Certain

Editorial Director Huffington Post Lifestyle

Producer/host  for Sistah of a Certain Age radio show

  1. Editorial Director Huffington Post Lifestyle
  2. On Air Lifestyle Contributor CNN,
  3. Sistah of a Certain Age radio show
  1. Sistah of a Certain Age Blog 
  2. Editor/Writer Black Pittsburgh Magazine
  3. African American Lifestyle Examiner
  1. Quinnipiac University, MS Interactive Media
  2. Duquesne University, BA Journalism
  1. Sistah Certain –  African-American Lifestyle Examiner –

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    Get the latest news and information on African-American Lifestyle, including local information on social and cultural events, health, beauty etc.

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    Sistah Certain s is on Facebook. Join Facebook to connect with Sistah Certain  and others you may know. Facebook gives people the power to share and

Sistah Certain Resume

Sistah Certain; 412-254-8705

Career Focus Writer/Editor /Content Provider/Media Liaison seeking

responsibilities with a newspaper, communications/marketing department, web site, college, magazine, PR firm.

Experience Summary

  •   Writing & copy editing – marketing text (brochures, playbills, ad copy, promotional cards); letters, speeches, organizing publications, working with graphic designers, curators, writing entertainment column, magazine features travel, entertainment, trends, profiles, section editor
  • Event planning –  organizing annual fundraising event for Pittsburgh Black Media Federation
  • Publications Consulting – August Wilson Center for African American Culture
  • Podcasting – developed, co-hosted successful podcast
  •  Blogger – write daily blog Sistah of a Certain Age
  •  Social Media Networking – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn,
  • Columnist –daily online and thrice weekly entertainment column
  • Research — for news articles, blog posts, opinion columns,
  • Editing and proofreading – newspapers, online column, literary publications
  • Grant writing


B.A., Journalism, Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA. 1983

Professional Experience

Freelance Writer/Copy Editor/Consultant

Blogger – Blogger/Content Provider

Podcast Co-Host – Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA

Entertainment Columnist –Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA

• Research, report and write daily gossip column for print and online editions.


Eastern Regional Editor In Community Magazines

  •  Overseeing the creation of quarterly magazine including assigning stories to freelance writers and photographers, writing some stories, taking photographs, working with designers, managing editor to produce a more localized quality magazine


Publications Consultant for August Wilson Center

  •  Writing and overseeing the development of brochures, playbills, promotional cards, letters, ad copy, exhibit text, working with graphic designers, curators, administrators.


  • Writer, Features – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Developing and writing content for print and digital editions

Producing and co-hosting podcast

A Mere Slip of a Girl

I walked right smack into his lips. At least that what it seemed like.

I was walking through the composing room of the newspaper, a route I took numerous times throughout my shift to deliver photos to the camera room.   I was a copy messenger, a position that was right above the dust that accumulated in the corners behind the teletype machines. I was a freshman studying  journalism and had only been on the job a few months. I was glad to have a job. I don’t  remember how I made it the four months prior to being sent downtown to the newspaper by my journalism professor.  He asked me to stay after class one day. I thought I was in trouble for signing my friend’s name on the attendance sheet for a mandatory lecture. Instead, Prof. K. wanted to tell me that the local newspaper needed copy messengers and that I should apply. I called and spoke to a many named Lenny, who told me to come in the next day.  The paper was on Chelton Street. The awkward topography of the city divided Chelton Street  in such a way that part of it was on a hill that didn’t connect directly to the other half of it that was downtown.  I spent an hour on the wrong portion of the street. I called to reschedule my interview.

When I finally found my way to the newspaper office, Lenny told me that this was a regular job, not an internship. Copy messengers did the grunt work, running things to the camera room, to composing room, getting papers from the mail room, distributing mail, answering phones when the clerks weren’t around. Newspaper folks worked holidays and weekends, he said.  I didn’t care. I didn’t have any money. I didn’t have any family in the city. I had to look out for myself. He offered the job. I took it. At 18, I was the youngest person working there.

I had never worked in an office.  I’d never worked much anywhere.  My first job ever was the summer before college. I worked in a summer day camp program for children in the foster care and child services system.  The camp was outside in a park, a beautiful green space surrounded by black  wrought iron fencing. The park was right on the edge of the west side of town before it became the east side. It was an industrial town along a river; a town full of working class black  folks who had moved there from the south to get those “good jobs” in the plants and factories. There was still a sizeable number of Italians and Eastern Europeans who lived and worked there, but they were no longer the majority.

In the newspaper office, the people weren’t all that different from the working class folks I’d grown up with. Sure, the newspaper people were better educated, but they still cussed (some of them anyway). They drank. Many of  the men made misogynistic comments about women.  One particular editor always seemed able  to work the phrase “buxom blonde”  into any conversation. Some of  newspaper women were just as tough as any of the working class women I knew. They didn’t accept foolishness. Once a reporter named Joan threw a coffee mug at an editor named Leslie because Joan thought Leslie should not have called her house to talk about a story with Joan’s husband, Greg, who also worked at the paper.  That was the editorial side.  The guys that worked in composing, the camera room, the mail room and press room were working class guys. Out of these four departments, there  were only about six African American men and they all worked in the mail room.  No women worked in any of these areas.

When I walked through composing to the camera room, I knew some of the men watched me. Some allowed their dirty thoughts to slip from their minds to their lips. They wondered just loud enough for me to hear as I passed by how nice it would be to get me alone.  Even though, their comments made me nervous and uneasy, I tried to laugh them off.  “This is how men are,” I thought to myself. “This is just how it is.”  There was one particular guy whom I tried to avoid. At first Bob seemed nice, a fatherly kind of guy. He took me in the dark room to show me the big camera they used.  But after that, it seemed that every time I came down to the camera room, he’d say something about getting me in the dark room so he could make “mad passionate love to me.”  I was not flattered. I was sick and nervous. I was only 18.  After I learned when his shift ended, I started waiting until I knew he was gone. Then I would take the pictures down to the camera room.  Several years later, after I had moved on to another position and no longer had to go to the camera room, Bob  saw me on the street and told me he was retiring.  He never realized how horrible he made me feel because I never told him.

As abhorrent as Bob’s behavior was, he never touched me.  That distinction went to a guy who worked in the composing room. I’ll call him Jack. It was New Year’s Eve. As usual, I was bringing the pictures from the editorial offices on the fourth floor to the dark room by way of the composing room.  Jack seemed to come out of nowhere. He was just there and before I could even take my next breath, he had kissed me.  I was stunned. I don’t remember what he said, how he justified it. Probably had something to do with it being New Year’s Eve.  I kept walking. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t.  “This is how men are,” I thought once again. “This is just how it is.”