Radio One founder and chairperson Cathy Hughes was awarded the Economic and Business Award by the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. on Friday.
The women’s organization held their 37th Annual Symposium: Workshop Awards Luncheon during Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, DC to recognize women who make significant contributions in the fields of health, education, the arts, community service and economic development.
In addition to Hughes, the BWA honored five other trailblazing black women such as Rev. Dr. Bernice King (who received the President’s Award); Dr. Frances Brisbane of Stony Brook University; National CARES founder and CEO Susan Taylor; and Hampton University student Niya Nelson.
The Radio One founder was recognized for her advancements for African-Americans and women in media.
“As the very first African-American female to chair a publicly-traded company Ms. Hughes is recognized as a trailblazing change agent renowned for making a difference when it comes to issues in the African American community,” said Vivian Rogers Pickard, BWA’s immediate past president, who presented Hughes the award. “She has managed the largest African-American-owned broadcast company in the world with subsidiaries and interests in radio, TV, online and more.”
Rogers Pickard shared that Hughes worked her way from an administrative assistant to become the first female general manager of a radio station in the Washington, D.C. market, and, in 1980, purchased the radio station she managed in order “to give African-Americans a voice.” WOL 1450 AM became the foundation of what would later become a media empire that grew to 55 radio stations, a cable network, several digital properties and more.
In her BWA award acceptance speech Hughes stressed the importance of mentorship and how those who helped pull her up played a tremendous part in her success.
“It’s so important for us to identify and reach back, mentor, tutor, help and, most importantly, look out for young women,” Hughes said. “That’s what C. Delores Tucker did for me. That’s what Dr. Dorothy Height did for me. And interestingly, a woman in this community by the name of Katharine Graham [former owner of the Washington Post], who once heard me make a speech, and I said in that speech that I wanted to do for the African-American community what Katharine Graham and the Washington Post did for the white community. After that, she embraced me and she said, ”Let me help you.”
The media mogul shared that one of the reasons why she was able to become the first female general manager of a radio station was because WOL, which was given to Howard University before her purchase, was owned by Katharine Graham.
“She opened that door for me,” Hughes said.
On Saturday Hughes was also honored with a Phoenix Award by the Black Congressional Caucus Foundation.
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