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Vol. LXIV, No. 6
March 16, 2012
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Heroes Close to Home
News Anchor Hayward Keynotes African-American History Celebration

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Long-time broadcast veteran JC Hayward delivers the keynote address for NIH’s African-American History Month observance.
Long-time broadcast veteran JC Hayward delivers the keynote address for NIH’s African-American History Month observance.

Plenty of famous black women, their names and deeds were acknowledged during NIH’s salute to African-American History Month on Feb. 16. But speaker after speaker reinforced the resounding message of the day: Remember the heroes close to home.

“We have a tendency to think of history as something that is settled, as an official narrative of long-ago events far removed from our existence,” said local TV news anchor JC Hayward, who gave the event’s keynote talk. “But for every president, for every general, for every famous orator, there have always been thousands of others—ordinary people, people like us who are here in this room who withstood struggles, made choices and actions that shaped history as surely as a treaty or a battle did.”

Continued...

Sponsored in Kirschstein Auditorium by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management, the annual observance adopted the 2012 national theme, “Black Women in American Culture and History.”

Among participants at the event are (from l) Hayward, NIH director

Among participants at the event are (from l) Hayward, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins, NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers and ORWH acting director Dr. Janine Austin Clayton.

NIDDK director Dr. Griffin Rodgers, serving as emcee for the event, set the tone. “What about a mother or our grandmother or former teacher?” he asked, in opening remarks. “These women—perhaps famous only to us—may have changed our history or culture by serving as important role models, teaching us about justice and serving as symbols of strength, love and resilience. Let’s remember all of these women today and throughout this month and how different our lives would have been without them.”

Vocalist DeCasto Brown
Vocalist DeCasto Brown (above) and composer-pianist Terry Marshall (below) perform jazz classics.
Composer-pianist Terry Marshall

Reading from President Obama’s 2012 proclamation on the month-long celebration, NIH director Dr. Francis Collins said, “Achievements of African-American women are not limited to those recorded and retold in our history books. Their impact is felt in communities, where they are quiet heroes who care for their families; in board rooms, where they are leaders of industry; in laboratories—like here at NIH, I might add—where they are discovering new technologies; and in classrooms, where they are preparing the next generation for the world they will inherit. It’s certainly a time to remember the legacy of African-American women of the past and to celebrate today’s women of note.”

He briefly recalled career highlights of two longtime NIH’ers, now retired—former NIH associate director for research on women’s health Dr. Vivian Pinn, and NHLBI sickle cell disease research pioneer Dr. Clarice Reid.

“We are fortunate at NIH to have many such role models in our midst,” he concluded.

Hayward talked about the accomplishments of Josephine Baker, Patricia Roberts Harris, Leontyne Price and Alice Coachman, but the Emmy Award-winning broadcaster was visibly moved when speaking fondly of someone she knew a lot more personally.

“Let’s get real…If you come from a real black mama, the way I did, then you know about those innate qualities that black women have—the [qualities] that are real hard to put your fingers on,” said Hayward, drawing nods and murmurs of agreement from the audience. “Blanche had eyes in the back of her head. She could see everything. Certainly she could see everything in church on Sunday when I was in the choir loft playing…Blanche was not educated with a college degree, but I thought she knew everything. In my little world, she certainly did.”

Hayward said her mother provided hot meals daily, made sure the house was spotless and managed the family’s finances.

“Blanche instilled in me a sense of pride, a sense of confidence and definitely the ability to dream big,” concluded Hayward, who celebrated her 40th year as a news anchor at D.C.’s WUSA channel 9. “She won’t be found in any of your history books, but when you’re looking at me, you’re looking at Blanche.”

Those family and community heroes—ordinary by most standards—inspire greatness in everyone, giving individuals the power and courage to make history, Hayward concluded.

“As our nation continues to become even more diverse, it is vital for us to recognize the black women who have shaped the future for all of us—not just for black American women, but for Americans in general,” she said. “We have generations of black women to thank for where we stand today.” NIHRecord Icon

Following the observance, she signed programs and posed for photos with well-wishers. A 40-year veteran of WUSA-Channel 9 News, Hayward said, “We have generations of black women to thank for where we stand today.”

Following the observance, Hayward signed programs and posed for photos with well-wishers.

Photos: Michael Spencer

A 40-year veteran of WUSA-Channel 9 News, she said, “We have generations of black women to thank for where we stand today.”

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