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Delores Handy became an award-winning African-American journalist, reporter, and news anchor. In a career spanning over four decades, Handy won four Emmy awards for her television work in Washington DC and Boston, Massachusetts. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2009.
Delores Handy was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on April 7, 1947, to the Reverend George G. Handy Sr. and his first wife. She is the oldest of fourteen children—nine girls and five boys. George Handy Sr. pastored a Baptist church in North Little Rock (Pulaski County).
Handy attended Horace Mann High School, with her interests including flag football and track and field. She graduated in 1965 and began college in the fall at Little Rock University, now the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. After her graduation in 1969, she worked for KAAY (AM 1090) in Little Rock under the pseudonym Mary Donald.
Handy’s interest in athletics in school carried over to her career. She was an Arkansas Travelers baseball fan and attended games often. She spent time under the mentorship of Arkansas Gazette sports editor Orville Henry, Gazette sportswriter Jim Bailey, and local broadcaster Jim Elder and learned how to keep game records.
Handy also worked in media markets in Memphis, Tennessee; Los Angeles, California; and Washington DC. In 1976, she joined WJLA-TV in Washington DC as a co-anchor with David Schoumacher. In January 1978, Handy was abruptly fired from the station, and her contract was not renewed. Her termination became a social and political issue between the District of Columbia City Council and WJLA news director Sam Zelman. Amid allegations that Handy and Schoumacher frequently quarreled, additional concerns included on-air time, billing, story assignments, and salaries—as Handy was likely making significantly less than Schoumacher’s $150,000 annual salary. Her termination also came at a time when councilmembers were fighting for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and an increase in employment-based affirmative action; the station was involved in a corporate ownership transfer at the time. Hundreds of phone calls and letters poured into the station and city council. The story was picked up later in the year by Ebony magazine after Handy had been hired by an independent news outlet in the city. Simone Booker, Ebony’s Washington bureau chief, urged the city’s majority-black population to exert influence over the media by turning their television dials to Handy’s new station.
Handy moved to Boston in 1982 to work at WQTV Channel 7. She also worked as a producer, anchor, and host for WGBH 2 and WHDH 68. Boston University purchased WGBH in 1993 and changed the call letters to WABU. On February 14, 1994, Handy became one of two principal anchors on the station’s Newsbreak 68, a two-minute news update airing at the top of the hour five days a week between noon and 11:00 p.m. Handy served as an anchor for CNN Headline News, and she also anchored for the Christian Science Church’s short-lived televised Monitor Channel, which closed in 1992. She then became an anchor and journalist for WBUR, National Public Radio, in Boston and for Boston University’s World of Ideas. Programming includes university faculty, staff, and community discussion of academic issues, events, and national and international politics.
The Washington Press Club named her Journalist of the Year in 1977. After twenty-five years of service, she was inducted into the Southeast Chapter’s Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television, Arts, and Sciences. The Museum of African-American History in Massachusetts honored her as one of 350 people who embody the spirit of black presence. She also won the New York International Film Festival’s Award for Documentaries. She has served on the board of directors for Project Step, which aims for better representation for racial and ethnic minorities in the field of classical music.
Handy is married to Larry Brown, a retired Boston police officer. They have a son and daughter and live in the Boston area. Handy is a descendant of blues music pioneer W. C. Handy.
For additional information:
“Delores Handy.” WBUR. http://www.wbur.org/staff/delores-handy (accessed September 1, 2017).
Robbie K. Gill
Central Arkansas Library System
Last Updated 9/1/2017
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