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In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became the first, and to this day only, African-American woman elected to the US Senate. Long before this historic victory, which Barack Obama would later say prefigured his own path to the Senate and presidency, veteran Chicago journalist Jeannie Morris saw an incredible opportunity. Here was a bold and politically courageous candidate, a feminist and sensible progressive with whom Morris quickly identified on a personal level. Morris joined the campaign to write the official story of a brilliant retail politician with a charismatic smile. What happened next resulted in a story that went well beyond what Morris could have imagined.
Behind the Smile is the riveting campaign-trail memoir of a journalist coming to grips with the shortcomings of an ascendant politiciana charismatic trailblazer whose personal relationship with a key staffer led to her undoing. The narrative unfolds as the personal journey of a sympathetic reporter reconciling her own belief in an inspiring figure with her responsibility to deliver the facts. In Behind the Smile, Morris brings the social and political impact of Moseley Braun's storyfrom her meteoric rise to her eventual downfallinto clear focus.
Jeannie Morris began her career as a writer, first with a column in the Chicago’s American that appeared on the Women’s page called Football is a Woman’s Game," then as a sports reporter for the Chicago Daily News. She was one of the first women in the nation to write sports for a major metropolitan daily.
While continuing her column, Jeannie began creating weekly sports features for Chicago's NBC affiliate, WMAQ-TV. Along with her husband, Johnny, Jeannie moved over to Chicago's CBS affiliate WBBM-TV in 1975. During her almost three decades as a Chicago sports reporter, Jeannie was honored 11 times with Emmys, and collected numerous AP and UPI awards for Best Sports/News Story” in Illinois while winning the national UPI award in 1980 for best sports reporting in the country for her investigative series exposing horse drugging at the racetrack. In 1987 she won the National Association of Black Journalists award for her program "Air Jordan." Jeannie also earned Emmys for spot news and children’s programming, the latter for an adaptation of her book, Adventures in the Blue Beast, the story of her family’s one-year camping trip in Europe and the then Soviet Union.
Her bestselling book, Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, the biography of the 26-year old Chicago Bear who died of cancer in 1970, has been in print for more than 25 years. It is often remembered for the movie that followed, "Brian’s Song."
Since leaving local television in 1990, in addition to continuing her writing, Jeannie has produced several programs for PBS, most notably the series "Adventure Divas," created with daughter Holly Morris. In 2014 she became the first woman to receive the Ring Lardner Award for excellence in sports journalism.
Jeannie has four children and seven grandchildren. She splits her time between Chicago, Seattle, and Sundance, Utah.