In the days before every news story was centered in violence, journalism was about the things that make us human.
Those stories of struggle and triumph were told by white men with straight faces and little emotion. Back then, Black people didn’t report the news, and when we were in the news, the stories were always negative. Then came Trudy Haynes. She was the nation’s first Black weather reporter in Detroit, but she wanted more than that, so she sought out tougher assignments, and she got them. Then, when she was recruited to KYW TV in Philadelphia, she was the first Black reporter in the market, and for three decades, she told our stories with style.
Trudy Haynes died yesterday at 95, but she left behind a legacy that every Black journalist can stand on. Miss Trudy interviewed the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Lyndon Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and even Tupac Shakur. Along the way, she built a legacy of excellence, but more than that, she earned the community’s trust.
I met Trudy Haynes some years ago, after the publication of my first book, Pipe Dream. Even after traveling the country on a book tour, and being interviewed internationally, and earning rave reviews, I got a special thrill from hearing Trudy Haynes say she’d read my book and loved it. Miss Trudy’s word meant something. It still does.
Now, as our community struggles through the trauma of widespread gun violence, and mourns the loss of those who have died in one shooting after another, I’m left to wonder what Miss Trudy would say at a time like this.
I’m convinced she would tell us that we can change our circumstances, because she knew what it was to change the world.