Award-winning and history-making journalist Joy Sewing shares story with ABC13 of her next chapter

Joy Sewing was promoted to news columnist at the Houston Chronicle and is the first Black woman to ever hold that post.

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Tuesday, April 2, 2024
Houston Chronicle's 1st Black woman news columnist on transitioning from fashion, into motherhood
As we celebrate Women's History Month, Melanie Lawson is shining a spotlight on an award-winning journalist. Joy Sewing was recently promoted to News Columnist at the Houston Chronicle. She is the first black woman to hold that post. Before news, Joy covered fashion for more than 15 years, but she shares with Melanie why her perspective in life changed and why she was inspired to tell stories in a bigger way.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Joy Sewing has wanted to be a reporter since she was 4 years old.

Now, the award-winning journalist and native Houstonian has just broken an incredible glass ceiling.

In December 2023, Sewing was promoted to news columnist at the Houston Chronicle and is the first Black woman to ever hold that post in more than 120 years.

"It's hard to believe, but I look at it as an opportunity to just tell more stories in a bigger way," Sewing told ABC13's Melanie Lawson.

That also means rewriting her own story and speaking for others who don't have a voice.

Sewing has worked at the Houston Chronicle for some two decades, boasting an impressive career as a journalist, writing for publications like "People," the "New York Post," "Vibe" and "Time" magazines.

That time includes covering fashion and beauty trends and traveling around the country. Then, life changed.

"I think what happened was the pandemic changed a lot of focus for me, and I became a foster to adoptive mom in 2019. And that really shifted my perspective about things that I felt like mattered," Sewing said.

Then came the murder of George Floyd and worldwide demands for racial reckoning.

"Then I was covering the George Floyd funeral, which I hadn't anticipated. And going through that, I realized that I can't go back to writing about fashion and that be my sole focus. I have to write about things that matter to me, that touch me, that touch my kids, my family," she explained.

After 10 years of applying to be a foster mom, she was approved to adopt a little girl, who is now eight.

"She had a biological sibling, who, they did not know each other, was in a completely different home, on a different side of town. And he became available, and they gave me basically two hours to decide to take him. And I called my mom, and she said, 'Get the baby. They deserve to be raised together,'" Sewing said.

Support for Sewing was strong the day they went to court for the formal adoption.

"You had a lot of people from the Chronicle, personal friends, all kinds of people showed up in person, but on a big TV screen to my right were about 40 or 50 people around the country who were family, friends, other people who were watching it," she said. "And so, I kept looking, and I was just amazed, like, oh my God, looking at all of them and then seeing that they all showed up for this moment in my life was just incredible."

But while she was forming her family, Sewing received devastating news: her beloved father had terminal cancer.

"It was terribly hard. I mean, he was my north star," she told ABC13.

Sewing and Melanie's fathers were close friends for decades, and they had one last emotional visit.

"I think my dad said something to the effect, 'I hope I lived a life well-lived.' And your father said, 'Of course you did, Richard.' And dad's like, 'Well, I don't know, but I hope so,'" Sewing recalled, adding that a note from Rev. Lawson made her feel less alone.

She's now working to make sure others don't feel alone.

Sewing created a non-profit called "Year of Joy," which brings joy and great experiences to kids in underserved communities. For Christmas, she took 250 kids ice-skating for the eighth year in a row.

She's even written a popular children's book about her two rescue dogs, Ava and Prince.

As for her work at the Chronicle, she says she's written columns about abortion, education, healthcare, and Houstonians from all walks of life.

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