Positive Connections: Denise Rolark-Barnes in Conversation with Cynthia Dawkins, Gina Best, and Mari
A discussion following the 8:00PM preview performance featuring Denise Rolark-Barnes (Editor of the Washington Informer) and parents of victims of gun violence.
Cynthia’s son, Timothy, was shot and killed on August 21st, 2013 when he was caught in a crossfire and murdered with a 9 mm extended clip gun in Washington, DC. Cynthia started the Timothy Dawkins-EL Project in her son’s memory. Cynthia holds an MSW degree and works as a mentor to adults in addition to her work as an activist.
Marion Gray-Hopkins is a retired banking executive. In 2000 she began her work as an activist in the movement for justice, police accountability and transparency after the senseless killing of her unarmed 19 year-old son Gary Hopkins, Jr. in November 1999 in Prince Georges County, MD.
She is a member of the Prince Georges County Peoples Coalition and Maryland Coalition for Justice and Equality (MCJE). She was a core team member in organizing the Million Moms March in May 2015. She has been actively engaged with organizations such ACLU, Code Pink, Progressive Maryland, Amnesty International, Mothers for Justice United, ONUS Inc. Her advocacy work has afforded her meetings with White House and Justice Department official to discuss needed changes. She has turned her pain into passion, becoming a catalyst for change.
Currently she in working with a local group of mothers to start an organization called Coalition of Concerned Mothers. She lives in Upper Marlboro, MD.
Newspaper publisher Denise Rolark-Barnes was born in Washington, D.C. Her father, Dr. Calvin W. Rolark, Sr., was the founder and the editor of the The Washington Informer; her stepmother, Wilhelmina J. Rolark, a politician and activist, served on the Council of the District of Columbia from 1976 to 1984. Rolark-Barnes was interested in writing at a young age and first wrote for the The Washington Informer while she was in middle school. After graduating from Howard University in 1976 with her B.A. degree in communications, Rolark-Barnes enrolled in the Howard University School of Law where she became editor of The Barrister, the law schools’ student newspaper. Rolark-Barnes graduated from the Howard University School of Law with her J.D. degree in 1979.
In 1980, Rolark-Barnes joined the staff of The Washington Informer and was assigned as the newspaper’s managing editor. After working with her father, Dr. Calvin W. Rolark, she took over as publisher of The Washington Informer in 1994. Rolark-Barnes also served as the director of The Washington Informer Charities and is the executive producer of “The Washington Informer News,” a bi-weekly television news program. In addition, she is the host of “Let’s Talk,” a public affairs program, and “Reporter’s Roundtable.” Rolark-Barnes has appeared as a guest reporter on “The Tavis Smiley Show,” “Tony Brown’s Journal,” NBC-4’s “Reporter’s Notebook,” and several local radio and television programs.
Rolark-Barnes is the president of the District of Columbia chapter of AARP and is a member of the board of the National Newspaper Publishers Association and the United Black Fund, Inc. She is actively involved with the District of Columbia Black Public Relations Society Foundation, the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and several other community non-profit organizations. Through The Washington Informer Charities, Rolark-Barns sponsors the annual Washington Informer City-Wide Spelling Bee as well as internships and writing competitions for high school and college students interested in pursuing careers in journalism.
In March of 2008, Rolark-Barnes was honored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association with the Chrysler Financial/National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation Entrepreneurial Award, which recognizes the nation’s black-owned newspapers for their entrepreneurial accomplishments and commitments to community service. In 2011, she received the Jack and Lovell Olender Foundation Generous Heart Award and the Summit Health Institute for Research and Education (SHIRE) Community Champion Award.
Rolark-Barnes lives in the Washington, D.C. with her husband, Lafayette Barnes. They have two sons.
Denise Rolark-Barnes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 7, 2013.