Rochelle Riley ended a nearly 20-year career as a nationally syndicated, award-winning Detroit columnist in 2019 to become the City of Detroit’s Director of Arts and Culture. In that role, she guides the city’s investment in the arts and creates opportunities for transformative innovation. Her most recent project was the nation’s first city-wide memorial to victims of Covid-19: 15 funeral processions that circled the city’s Belle Isle past 924 photo billboards of victims. The installation, the largest in the city’s history, gained international attention that continues to this day.
Rochelle, author, essayist and art advocate travels the country hosting conversations about the burden that America still bears by refusing to deal with the aftermath of American enslavement. She received the 2017 Ida B. Wells Award from the National Association of Black Journalists “for her outstanding efforts to make newsrooms and news coverage more accurately reflect the diversity of the communities they serve” and the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Professional Journalists. She is a co-founder of Letters to Black Girls, an initiative to give letters of advice and encouragement from women across the country to girls across the country.
Rochelle has been inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame and the North Carolina Media and Journalism Hall of Fame. She is author of "That They Lived: African Americans Who Changed the World" and "The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery.