Writer. Activist. Educator.

All of these words accurately describe Sofiya Ballin, KLN '14, but her passion for storytelling has been the defining force in her life. 

image of Sofiya Ballin.
Photo credit: Ryan S. Brandenberg

This former reporter’s work has appeared widely, including in Huffington Post and Essence Magazine. In 2016, she created Black History Untold while at the Philadelphia Inquirer and left in 2018 to produce it independently. From the beginning, the annual project has featured legendary community leaders, including MC Black Thought, Philadelphia Eagle Malcolm Jenkins, actor/activist Jesse Williams, TFM ’03,  poet and professor emerita Sonia Sanchez, Grammy-nominated singer Jasmine Sullivan, iconic dancer Judith Jamison, and everyday people sharing black history knowledge that has changed their lives. For the project, Ballin has won a host of accolades, most notably Digital Journalist of the Year in 2017 by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. 

“I love black people and I love telling our stories,” says Ballin. “I have always loved exploring our culture(s) and who we are as a people.”

Today, she is preparing to unveil a series entitled HERSTORY. The new project profiles the lives of close to 40 different women of color, conveying these stories across a host of multimedia platforms. 

Growing up in a Jamaican family instilled in Ballin an awareness of the importance of diversity in black culture and her desire to tell Pan-African stories. Temple provided Ballin with an environment where that understanding could flourish. 

“At Temple, we interacted, we debated, we protested.” says Ballin. “It definitely shaped me on this path I’m currently on.” 

—By Kerith Gabriel