MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time in its 40-year history, the National Association of Black Journalists is holding its yearly convention in Minneapolis.

More than 1,500 members of NABJ are expected to show up at the Minneapolis Convention Center. They include TV and print journalists, as well as journalism students from across the country.

But this week’s convention is not just about networking. It is also about discussing recent issues surrounding race.

“It’s just a really great experience. Our mentors here are absolutely amazing,” Rachel Scott said.

Scott is a student at USC in Los Angeles. But this week she and other members of the NABJ Student Projects are gaining valuable experience in Minneapolis.

“We’re reporting, producing our own packages, and so we’re working with lovely photographers that are helping us put stuff together about issues at the convention and around the Minneapolis area,” Scott said.

Raji Ramanathan is working with Scott and other students.

“They assign us stories or we get to pitch our own stories,” Ramanathan said. “We are always on that reporter work grind, which is a great experience being here for just a few days.”

At NABJ, there are prime opportunities to learn and to network. But there are also opportunities to discuss an issue that affects every journalist and every generation.

“Just elevating the conversation about race,” communications coordinator Aprill O. Turner said. “Often times we are the only voices in our newsroom, and we are the champion of diversity in our newsroom.”

From Ferguson, to Baltimore, to Charleston. Malcolm Graham’s sister, Cynthia Hurd, was killed in the Charleston church shooting.

“She loved her community, loved her family, loved her God, and it’s just a shame that we lost her so soon,” Graham said. “What happened in Charleston has to be more than just a moment in time. It has to be the beginning of a movement of progressive thinking.”

Graham was on a “Race in America” panel Thursday morning with actor Louis Gossett Jr.

“We need to rely on one another for the salvation of the very planet right now,” Gossett Jr. said.

He used a sports analogy when talking about trying to overcome stereotypes and other issues in our country.

“Look at professional sports. Look at any time when there’s a team that’s together of all kinds to win a championship. Everybody has got to contribute positively to the whole to win that championship,” Gossett Jr. said.

The NABJ convention runs through Sunday at the convention center.

John Lauritsen