Julian Crosby established Gravity Magazine, the University’s first student publication dedicated to highlighting and uplifting Black experiences.
As the credits to Ava DuVernay’s 13th rolled in Julian Crosby’s sociology class, his creative mind whirled as he marveled at the power of storytelling.
Crosby, a Hammond Scholar, Foote Fellow, and honors student studying motion pictures in the School of Communication, often draws inspiration from others to share compelling stories. Producers like DuVernay, activists like Martin Luther King Jr., and even writer and YouTube star Issa Rae fuel his passion for creative storytelling. Fixed on pursuing a career in film and broadcast television, the Jacksonville, Florida, native set his sights on getting involved with productions at the University of Miami that celebrate and uplift Black voices, like UMTV’s The Culture.
But in June, when millions of people across the world watched Americans rise in the wake of injustice and racial inequity, Crosby found himself reckoning with his identity.
“Being a Black man in America, I found myself feeling like I had to wake up and defend my existence every day,” said Crosby. “It felt like our narrative in this country became defined, almost marred, by trauma. While these are legitimate periods of Black existence, they are not the sum of our Black experience. I wanted to create a platform that celebrates Black joy.”
When Crosby began to explore how he could creatively tell stories on campus, he recognized an opportunity to elevate Black creative voices in the community. Crosby and his peers in the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) turned their pain into passion. The students began conceptualizing the University’s first student magazine dedicated to celebrating Black voices, experiences, and creative essence—Gravity Magazine.
Tsitsi Wakhisi, an associate professor for the School of Communication, serves as Gravity Magazine’s adviser. Crosby said she was instrumental in the magazine’s launch.
“When he approached me over the summer, his energy and enthusiasm preceded him. He was so excited and dedicated. I was ready to receive him and his ideas,” Wakhisi said. “He persuaded me that this was the right time and that he was the right person to bring this idea to life.”
The young creators put everything they had into the first pieces of the magazine, dedicating their summer months to staging photoshoots in backyards, using nothing but tablecloths and iPhone cameras to create their first magazine cover. Overcoming the challenges of organizing editorial content and hosting production meetings virtually, Gravity Magazine published its first edition in August 2020.
“I was so desperate to reestablish a sense of peace after a tumultuous summer for Black and POC students,” Crosby said. “I wanted a place where Black students could relax, where they could, for maybe their first time, let their hair down and unapologetically create.”
The digital magazine published stories highlighting Black small business owners, creators, and experiences on campus. The students hope, one day, to produce a print edition of the magazine. Until then, the editorial team capitalizes on digital collaboration opportunities. The web edition of recent publications includes videos co-produced by students from UMTV’s The Culture and Gravity Magazine.
In January, Crosby was recognized for his work on Gravity Magazine by The Conversationalist as an exceptional Gen-Z’er for his impact on the community by using his voice to make a difference. He said the accolade further drove his ambition to keep creating and organizing spaces on campus to amplify Black voices in the University community.
“Any pursuit of racial justice is a pursuit of the diversity of thought. And by creating this magazine, we’re creating a more versatile campus community,” Crosby shared.
In his second year at the University, Crosby noted that his story as a creative leader, innovator, and activist is just getting started. “For me, this magazine is a reason to be motivated to get up every day. I feel like I have a story to tell, and I won’t be satisfied until I tell it.”
Read the latest from Gravity Magazine here.
This article originally appeared at https://news.miami.edu/stories/2021/02/sophomore-launches-magazine-to-amplify-black-voices.html.