other, professional and avid student, Dorothy
Ferebee ’84 has delivered news, reviewed books,
coordinated an independent film, created a
website, written a book, and, most recently, overseen
a progressive Philadelphia reading project.
One thing is constant: her goal is always to learn.
Life offers plenty of lessons, but Ferebee loves
to learn from literature and does all she can to
help others do the same. Her mother impressed
on her the importance of reading. As a teen, Ferebee
worked as a reading tutor and a bookbinder.
Named after her aunt, a professor of medicine,
Ferebee says she had a lot to live up to. “Her
name bears a heavy legacy,” Ferebee says. “With
that comes a call to action.” So Ferebee followed
her aunt’s lead and for 12 years, she worked
in respiratory therapy. Eventuallly, though, she
sought a change in her life and her profession.
Starting at Burlington County College, she
transferred to Glassboro State to earn a degree
in communication. In 1986, Ferebee began
working at WHYY in Philadelphia. She parlayed a
part-time job into a full-time post and In 1990,
became station services coordinator for the
award-winning radio show, Fresh Air.
Since then, Ferebee been a liaison responsible
for maintaining station services relations
with National Public Radio and 450 affiliate stations.“We pride ourselves on looking behind the
headlines, so our guests reflect our quest to understand
and appreciate the world,” says Ferebee,
part of the staff that helped Fresh Air win the
Peabody Award for excellence in broadcasting.
At ease communicating in various media, Ferebee
reaches people in other ways, too. In 1994,
she served as Philadelphia coordinator for an independent
film about a fashion model possessed
by the spirits of Ghana slaves. Her involvement
with the film led to guest lectures on African-American culture and youth issues.
Always reading, Ferebee wrote book reviews
for the Baltimore Sun’s Jubilee magazine and
the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s
200 black-owned newspapers, among others.
She posts her reviews at her site, www.booksforblacks.net. “I sought to bring attention to the
more noteworthy books and to rekindle interest
in classic African-American literature,” she says.
In 2003, Ferebee had her first book published,
How to Create Your Own African American Library
(One World/Ballantine). Last February, Ferebee’s
expertise in African-American literature and literacy
led to a keynote speaking engagement for
the PBS series, African American Lives, a professional
development workshop for educators. “It
was a high point for me to give a lecture in front
of so many teachers—people whom I respect very
much,” Ferebee says.
Through her new project, Celebrating Our
Right to Read, Ferebee asks for people to donate
African-American books to prisons, schools, and
libraries. “It is a continuing
movement to stimulate
a renaissance in
reading,” she explains.
It’s fitting that Ferebee
uses reading as
a vehicle to continue
the legacy her mother
and aunt gave her
long ago. “To be literate
is to be able
to understand and
navigate the world
we live in,” she says. “Reading
is the gateway to knowledge and opportunity,”—which Ferebee proves is more than just book
—Sabatino Mangini ’01, M’04