2020 Online Commentary finalist

Jeneé Osterheldt

About the Project

In a wide body of sterling work, Globe columnist Jeneé Osterheldt delivered a towering performance over the past year. She provided a powerful and vital voice at a critical time for our nation, capturing the pain and depth of Black citizens as frustrations boiled over from the killings, police brutality, and pandemic that ravaged their communities in the first half of 2020.

Jeneé wrote one of the first columns about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, deftly tying his death to the societal entitlement that caused Amy Cooper to shriek into a phone in Central Park.

Her call of “America is burning” explained the inflamed spirit of protesters to audiences around the nation as enraged citizens took to the streets of Minneapolis.

During the coronavirus outbreak, Osterheldt found stories of inspiration. She profiled a woman suffering from a rare disease that makes every day of her life a pandemic — yet she still has the courage to go hiking in the woods of Massachusetts every week. She interviewed her dad, a grocery store worker, about what it means to be “essential,” risking his life to stock shelves for others.

Her deeply reported story about a failed monument to the slave auction in Boston’s Faneuil Hall unearthed a story of how the actions of the NAACP chased one of the most prominent Black artists out of town.

Not limited to the printed word, Jeneé pioneered “Jeneé TV,” a video and Instagram series in which she profiles the diverse characters and personalities fighting for change and helping to remake Boston.

Jeneé’s work gave representation to communities too often overlooked. She gave voice to those who needed to be heard. She bravely took on powerful institutions and figures. Most importantly, she gave readers of all backgrounds a deeper understanding of our society. For these reasons, we proudly submit her for the OJA in commentary.