Levy Lecture with author and documentarian Ava Thompson Greenwell


During the past 15 months, Ava Thompson Greenwell completed the documentary she produced and directed, “Mandela in Chicago,” saw it premier on Chicago’s WTTW-Channel 11, completed and submitted for publication the manuscript for her first book, “Ladies Leading: The Black Women Who Control Television News,” and taught reporting classes at Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, where she also serves as the associate dean for curriculum, director of the Teaching Television Program, co-curator for the nationally recognized Ida B. Wells award and director of the McCormick Tribune Fellows Program.

On Tuesday, July 13, she spoke to the Levy Lecture audience about the making of the documentary and some of the research findings from her book.

While all of the aforementioned responsibilities would be Herculean for most people, Dr. Thompson Greenwell is exceedingly organized, has a robust network of contacts, and as she readily shares, has a very supportive husband and works for deans who have provided her with much needed flexibility with her academic schedule.

This is Greenwell’s third time participating in the Levy Lecture Series. In December 2017, she spoke about “Media Consumption in a Polarized and Politicized Time” and suggested what a concerned news consumer could do to avoid getting bamboozled by fake stories masquerading online as journalism.

A year later, she returned to the Levy Senior Center to show a ‘rough cut’ of her documentary, which at that time had a working title of “Mission Possible: Chicago’s Free South Africa Movement.” It was a fascinating look into what was involved to tell a story on film, and the urgency to secure taped interviews with the key players in Chicagoland before they were too ill or old, or before they passed away.