By A.J. Dugger III
Two-time Emmy Award-winning Multimedia Journalist Dr. Sybril Bennett has a busy October planned. In addition to promoting her new book, “Innovate: Lessons from the Underground Railroad,” she will be speaking on The People’s Stage at the Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland in October.
“I am the only African-American female speaker out of hundreds,” said Bennett, an associate professor of journalism at Belmont University. The Web Summit is Europe’s version of “South by Southwest,” (SXSW) the conference where missionaries, entrepreneurs and other leaders meet to create innovative start-ups. Over 10,000 attendees will arrive from all over the world to participate, but only 50 people will get the chance to speak on the People’s Stage, something that Bennett is honored to do.
“This is a big deal,” she told The Tennessee Tribune. “I’ll be in Dublin for a week.” The main stage will also include Professional Skateboarder and Cisco Systems CEO Tony Hawk, reps from WordPress, Evernote and many other companies.
The Web Summit will take place on October 30-31. In the meantime, Bennett is busy promoting her new book, “Innovate: Lessons from the Underground Railroad.” Published in July, the book makes surprising revelations on how the Internet and The Underground Railroad can compare to one another. The description on the back cover states that:
“Innovate: Lessons from the Underground Railroad dares to compare the Internet and the UGRR as two of America’s most innovative, effective, and disruptive networks. Think about it: both serve as platforms for freedom, justice, and equality. From portals and links to branding and ownership, the comparisons are too obvious to ignore.”
Bennett’s first book, The Color-Full Alphabet Book, was published in 2009.
Bennett says she was an educator by birth and a journalist by choice. Born in North Chicago, she graduated from Marquette University in 1990 with a degree in broadcast and electronic communications, and later received a masters in college student personnel from Loloya University Chicago. In 1999, she earned a Ph.D in Higher Education Administration from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
During her 20 years in news, Bennett has worked at ABC in Milwaukee, CBS in Chicago and CBS in Nashville.
Spreading knowledge is something she has always aimed to do. “Education has always been a focus and passion of mine,” she said. Bennett’s most recent television job was as a general assignment reporter for CBS in Nashville. She was also a fill-in anchor and talk show host. Bennett was commissioned by the American Association of Colleges and Universities to partake in the Bridge to Theory and Practice monograph project.
Bennett has a lot of faith, and gets inspiration from the strong will of her ancestors. “When you’re afraid, think of the faith of the enslaved Africans,” she said. “Always know that things will come together.”