Christian Herald, '25, stands by a window overlooking Stern Plaza.

A voice for social justice

March 14, 2024

Untapped voices. That’s what Christian Herald said she observed when she arrived at University of Richmond in fall 2021.

“I was telling professor Thad Williamson about the disconnect I noticed between the many Richmond students talking about social justice issues on social media and the lack of outlets for discussing these issues on campus,” the leadership studies major and sociology minor said. “He said, ‘Why don’t you write about it yourself? Maybe start a magazine.’”

So, she did.

The inaugural issue of Counterculture Magazine published April 1, 2022, with a photo of the city of Richmond’s graffiti-riddled monument of Confederate General Robert E. Lee on its cover. The issue’s nine articles covered topics ranging from an argument for the abolition of Greek life at University of Richmond, to race-based education disparities in nearby Henrico County, to racist perceptions of beauty, and more.

Two years later, editor-in-chief Herald said the student-run digital magazine is fulfilling its mission to educate and inspire readers on social justice issues. The magazine receives some University funding, given its status as an official student organization. 

Counterculture has been read by people on every continent except Antarctica,” Herald said. “Our editors hold the magazine to journalistic standards. Writers must back up their claims with facts.”

Unlike most magazines, however, authors aren’t given bylines, in part, she said, to protect them from potential harassment when they write about controversial subjects. She added, “The absence of bylines also sends a message that, although writers may hold different opinions on specific issues, we all stand behind the magazine’s values of equity, inclusion, and belonging.”

As an African-American woman, Herald said social justice has been a running theme in her life. She said she grew up in a predominantly middle-class Black and brown neighborhood in Washington, D.C., but did not attend her local public school, which she described as “flailing.” Instead, she rode a bus for an hour or more one way to attend a predominantly white private school in McLean, Virginia, with senators’ and diplomats’ children.

The role of race in education equity is not lost on her. Now, as a Richmond Scholar and an Oliver Hill Scholar at Richmond, she has explored this issue further.

“In Dr. Williamson’s Leadership and the Humanities class, we looked at the civil rights movement through a leadership lens," the junior said. "Dr. Hayter's Justice and Civil Society class introduced me to issues like redlining and urban renewal that contributed to the disparities seen in the city of Richmond today. In Dr. Bedelia Richards’ Race, Class, and Schooling class, I did a deep dive into what I want to pursue post-graduation.

“I want to build a world where all students, especially Black girls, are supported emotionally and academically. Through a career in public interest law, I hope to work with school districts to craft better policies that will lead to the creation of a radically different education system.”

Recently named a Truman Scholar finalist, Herald said she will continue to promote Counterculture Magazine as a social justice platform while she is a Richmond undergraduate. Currently, she is working with the editorial staff on the fifth issue.

“My goal is to increase readership while keeping the same core values. I want this magazine to thrive long after I’m gone from Richmond.”