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Rachel Swarns

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Information about Rachel Swarns

Profile image of Rachel Swarns

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Reporter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green and Rose
Favorite Food:
Seafood, Tropical Fruit
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Near Water
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/10/1967
Birth Location:
New York, New York

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Reporter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green and Rose
Favorite Food:
Seafood, Tropical Fruit
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Anywhere Near Water
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
7/10/1967
Birth Location:
New York
See how Rachel Swarns is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Newspaper reporter/author Rachel L. Swarns was born in 1967 in Queens, New York. Her father, Joseph H. Swarns, was a real estate agent; her mother, Lucille Swarns, a deputy superintendent for public schools. After graduating from Stuyvesant High School in 1985, Swarns attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., and received her B.A. degree in Spanish and African and Caribbean Studies. She went on to receive her M.A. degree in international relations from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England.

Swarns was hired as a newspaper reporter for the St. Petersburg Times from 1989 to 1991, where she covered criminal courts, and then as a police reporter at the The Miami Herald from 1991 to 1995. At The Miami Herald, she covered federal courts, the Los Angeles Riots and immigration, traveling to Haiti and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She was also part of the Pulitzer-prize winning team that covered the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. In 1995, Swarns joined The New York Times, where she wrote about the welfare reform policies of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the historic visit of former Pope John Paul II to Cuba, and health care and homelessness in Russia. In 1999, Swarns became the Times’ first African American Johannesburg bureau chief. From 1999 to 2003, she covered eleven countries in Southern Africa, and reported on the challenges of racial reconciliation in South Africa, civil strife in Zimbabwe, and the civil war in Angola. Swarns joined The New York Times’ Washington bureau in 2003, where she reported on domestic policy, national politics, and immigration. She wrote about the Presidential elections of 2004 and 2008, and Michelle Obama’s first year in the White House. In 2013, Swarns became a columnist for The New York Times, writing a weekly column entitled, “The Working Life,” which focused on work, the workplace and the evolving New York City economy.

In 2012, Swarns authored American Tapestry: The Story of the Black, White and Multiracial Ancestors of Michelle Obama, a history of First Lady Michelle Obama’s ancestry. Also, a series she wrote on the emergence of a professional black elite class in South Africa was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Swarns was awarded a visiting fellowship at the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America. She has also served as a Woodrow Wilson Center Public Policy Scholar.

Swarns lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two children.

Rachel L. Swarns was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 15, 2014.

See how Rachel Swarns is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Rachel Swarns' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns recalls her mother's immigration to the United States of America
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns recalls how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns describes the St. George neighborhood of Staten Island, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Rachel Swarns describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Rachel Swarns remembers her street in Staten Island, New York
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Rachel Swarns describes her childhood temperament
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns recalls her early education at P.S. 16, John J. Driscoll School in Staten Island, New York
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns describes her home life
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her relationship with her parents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns recalls the development of her racial consciousness
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns talks about her racial identity
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns talks about her Caribbean ancestry
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns recalls her mother's professional pursuits
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns remembers interning at New Youth Connections in New York City
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns remembers her student internship at New Youth Connections
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns recalls the sociopolitical climate of the 1980s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her decision to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns recalls attending Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns remembers her mentors at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her experiences at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns talks about her college journalism internships
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns recalls her first journalism position at the St. Petersburg Times
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns remembers joining the Miami Herald
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Rachel Swarns describes how she developed her reporting style
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns describes the racial demographics of the newsroom at the Miami Herald
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns remembers receiving a fellowship from the Rotary Foundation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns recalls being hired at The New York Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns talks about joining The New York Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns remembers marrying her husband, Henri Cauvin
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns recalls her experiences at The New York Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns remembers her mentors at The New York Times
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns talks about her appointment to bureau chief in South Africa
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns describes her experiences living abroad in South Africa
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns describes her news coverage of Angola
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns recalls her sources as bureau chief in South Africa
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her challenges at The New York Times, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns describes her challenges at The New York Times, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns recalls returning from her travels abroad
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns remembers the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns talks about internal conflicts at The New York Times
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns recalls the plagiarism scandal with Jayson Blair
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns describes her role at the Washington, D.C. bureau of The New York Times
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns talks about balancing her career with motherhood
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns remembers her assignments at The New York Times in 2008
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns describes her coverage of First Lady Michelle Obama
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns remembers her article about First Lady Michelle Obama's genealogy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns recalls her process for writing her book, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns recalls her process for writing her book, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns describes her research for her book
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns remembers the reception to her book
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns recalls her position as a columnist for The New York Times
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Rachel Swarns describes her column at the New York Times
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her career
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Rachel Swarns talks about the changes in the field of journalism
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon the role of journalism in modern society
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Rachel Swarns describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Rachel Swarns describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Rachel Swarns reflects upon her generation's legacy