Converge Media’s TraeAnna Holiday and Deaunte Damper Look to the Future

by Amanda Ong

Converge Media, the largest producer of Black media in the Pacific Northwest, has seen several major milestones in the last month alone. Since its founding in 2017, Converge has operated out of its Black Media Matters Studio in downtown Seattle and has been working to uplift Black voices in ways that have been incredibly radical and influential throughout the media industry. Co-founder Omari Salisbury has notably gained recognition for his work covering Seattle’s response to the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, and through their show, The Morning Update. Now, Converge is both saying goodbye to some of its past work and looking forward to exciting new coverage on the horizon.

As a testament to the work Converge has done, it was recently awarded the Governor’s Award at the Northwest Emmy Awards, the Emmys’ highest honor. The award is given to those who have been unanimously recognized by the NW Emmy Awards’ board for changing the landscape of the industry. That Converge accomplished this in a short five years is no small feat. June marked the end of Converge’s The Morning Update Show, and the organization has brought in new programming in its absence. 

TraeAnna Holiday, The Morning Update Show’s former co-host along with Salisbury, is now hosting The Day With Trae, a talk show for King County and beyond. The Morning Update Show viewers can continue tuning in Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. for The Day With Trae, to hear from Holiday and the myriad of guests she’ll be bringing on. The show will feature fashion, beauty, news, community, business, travel, and health and wellness.

“By providing a media space for our community, [The Day with Trae will] be a conduit to share news, events, and more that matter to our community,” Holiday said in an interview with the Emerald. “There are so many people doing phenomenal things that don’t get the spotlight to share what they’re doing; so I’m glad my show can be that space for them.”

Holiday says that viewers can continue to expect excellence from all the shows Converge Media produces as it elevates stories of the Black community and beyond. Holiday is excited to make The Day with Trae accessible to people who are often overlooked in regards to other media opportunities. At the same time, she says she’ll miss co-hosting with Salisbury. 

“Omari’s impact will always be with us in the Black Media Matters Studio. His work ethic, community focus, and determination for greatness is everlasting,” Holiday said. “I’ll miss our daily camaraderie. We paired well together, showing our differences and similarities. One thing was always apparent … we have nothing but love for our community!”

Longtime community activist Deaunte Damper has also recently joined Converge to lead LGBTQIA+ programming, and is hosting We Live in Color, the first show centering Seattle’s Black LGBTQIA+ community. Damper was raised in the South End in Columbia City, and in 2019 became the board chair of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and the first LGBTQIA+ chair in the NAACP. 

“There are so many times we are talking about the intersections,” Damper told the South Seattle Emerald in an interview. “We’re talking about LGBTQ advocacy, but a lot of our Black queer artists or Black queer case managers, our Black queer peer navigators, our Black queer singers usually end up getting put in the back burner, unsung. [We Live in Color] just kind of gives people a platform and opportunity to talk about who they are as a person, not just the organization they work for.”

Damper hopes the show will be able to explore the stories of LGBTQIA+ resilience that often go unheard — from how community members cope with HIV, to the way lesbian women deal with the intersections of homophobia and misogyny, to extreme discrimination against Black trans women from other members of both the Black and LGBTQIA+ communities. At the same time, Damper wants to bring light and joy to the show. 

“Like, what about a dating game? What would that look like for us?” Damper said. “People need to see us living in color, us living out loud. … I just hope that people can see the authenticity of the Black LGBTQ community. I am just a person that is a part of that community that wants to create space for other community people.”

Despite having only recently joined Converge, Damper also had the opportunity to work closely with Salisbury. Damper says Salisbury will always be an inspiration to him.

“He’s taking a step back, but Omari can’t leave Converge, because you see him in every show that we have,” Damper said. “Omari created a compass for Black media. Not just, like, media in Seattle, but Black media nationally. When we grew up, we saw Joyce Taylor and Deborah Horne. … Still to this day, just so much work goes on inside. But Omari humanized Black journalists.”

For both Damper and Holiday, as well as everyone at Converge, the work comes down to a simple dedication to the community as a whole, as a united front. As they continue to stand by the community, they will also continue to uplift voices, to create, and to innovate as Black media journalists. 

“I’m a part of this community; I have mentors and mentees here; my family’s brilliance is all throughout the CD,” Holiday said. “I care deeply about the stories of my community. The work I do in media is crucial, because where else can it be shown, how else can we inform folks of the greatness within our community?” 

“Please look forward to us moving, moving, and continuing to invent and reinvent the wheel,” Damper said.

Follow Damper, Holiday, and Converge Media at @TraeHoliday and @WWConverge on Instagram, TraeAnna Holiday, Deaunte Damper, and Converge Media on Facebook, and @HolidayTraeAnna and @WWConverge on Twitter. Donate to Converge on its website, or reach out to Converge to volunteer. We Live in Color is also looking for LGBTQIA+ guests for the show; you can reach out to Deaunte through the Converge Media website.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated that Omari Salisbury had left Converge Media. It has been updated to clarify that Salisbury is no longer co-hosting the Morning Update Show, as the show is no longer being produced.

Amanda Ong (she/her) is a Chinese American writer from California. She is currently a master’s candidate at the University of Washington Museology program and graduated from Columbia University in 2020 with degrees in creative writing and ethnicity and race studies.

📸 Featured Image: Converge Media’s founder Omari Salisbury (left) stepped away in June, but TraeAnna Holiday (right) and Deaunte Damper (not pictured) are guiding the Black media outlet into its next chapter. Image courtesy of Converge Media.

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