Alysia Steele

Associate Professor of Multiple Platform Journalism

Alysia Steele

Alysia Burton Steele is an Associate Professor of Journalism.

Research Interests

Photojournalism and documentary photography. Oral history, audio storytelling, and community engagement with intersectionality in race, class, and gender. Podcasting and multimedia production. Currently a History Ph.D. Candidate majoring in U.S. History Post Civil War, minoring in African American Studies and Gender Studies. Incorporating research in Black women’s labor and the Civil Rights Movement by teaching African American Women’s History. In gender studies classes taught, Steele centers on sexuality and the media, particularly with BIPOC communities.


Alysia Steele has worked at several award-winning newspapers, including The Columbus Dispatch and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where she worked as a picture editor and deputy director of photography. In 2006, she was part of The Dallas Morning News photo team that won the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for their Hurricane Katrina coverage. She served as one of the picture editors. Steele has won many awards throughout her career, including the James Gordon Understanding Award for photographic excellence for documenting Kenya’s Kakumaa Refugee camp. Mississippi Humanities Council awarded her the esteemed “Mississippi Preserver of Culture” in 2016 for her book Delta Jewels: In Search of Her Grandmother’s Wisdom, endorsed by best-selling author Roy Blount, Jr., and activists Gloria Steinem and Reena Evers. Delta Jewels has been featured in The New York Times, Garden & Gun, USA Today,, National Public Radio, Southern Living, and Chicago Sun-Times, to name a few. To date, Steele has completed 92 nationwide speaking engagements about Delta Jewels.

In 2021, Indiana University of Pennsylvania awarded Steele the Distinguished Alumni Award. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Mississippi, with her research interests in Black women’s labor during the Civil Rights Movement. Her dissertation centers on Elaine Tomlin, the only African American female staff photographer for the SCLC during the 1960s. It is groundbreaking research, with Steele cataloging and contextualizing Tomlin’s recovered negatives to produce a photo history book. Steele is also in progress on her second nonfiction book. She teaches gender studies and history classes, focusing on race, class, sexuality, and gender.


Inspired by memories of her beloved grandmother, photographer and author Alysia Burton Steele -- picture editor on a Pulitzer Prize-winning team -- combines heart-wrenching narrative with poignant photographs of more than 50 female church elders in the Mississippi Delta.

These ordinary women lived extraordinary lives under the harshest conditions of the Jim Crow era and during the courageous changes of the Civil Rights Movement. With the help of local pastors, Steele recorded these living witnesses to history and folkways, and shares the significance of being a Black woman -- child, daughter, sister, wife, mother, and grandmother in Mississippi -- a Jewel of the Delta. From the stand Mrs. Tennie Self took for her marriage to be acknowledged in the phone book, to the life-threatening sacrifice required to vote for the first time, these 50 inspiring portraits are the faces of love and triumph that will teach readers faith and courage in difficult times.

Was a finalist in the Jessie Redmon Fauset award for nonfiction.

Courses Taught

  • Jour 102 Introduction to Multimedia Writing
  • Jour 273 Creative Visual Thinking
  • Jour 353 Gender, Sexuality, and Media
  • Jour 375 Photojournalism
  • Jour 403 Advanced Photojournalism
  • Jour 456 Journalism Capstone
  • Jour 580 Journalism Topics Podcasting
  • G St 301 Gender Studies Topics in Gender and Culture
  • G St 498 Special Topics in Gender Studies Audio Storytelling of Marginalized Voices
  • Hst 418 African American Women’s History

In 2015, the National Black Public Relations Society awarded the Ofield Dukes Educator of the Year Award to Steele. She also volunteered to document life in the Ivory Coast, Uganda, and South Africa for Habitat for Humanity’s 25th anniversary coffee table book and did documentary work in Ghana. 

Fun fact: She also designed a hardcover coffee table book for three consecutive years for actor and former California Governor Arnold Swarzenegger. The book featured the Arnold Sports Festival held in Columbus, Ohio.


M.A. Photography, Ohio University Main Campus (2010)