Pioneer BWIB

This site not only serves as venue to feature current Black Women in Broadcast, but will also highlight the women who pioneered in this industry. Their groundbreaking steps in their career helped to open the door to allow other women to follow in their footsteps. Here we will honor those women and take a closer look at their careers.


Trailblazer: Belva Davis

In all my years of studying journalism and the pioneers of the industry it was not until a random search (Thank God for the Internet) that I came across an interview with Belva Davis, the first black female TV journalist in the western United States. Davis began her journalism career at age 22, writing freelance articles for Jet magazine. She then wrote full time for Bay Area African-American newspapers, including the San Francisco Sun-Reporter and the Bay Area Independent. Davis’ broadcasting career began in radio, where she worked at various radio stations in the Bay area, including KSAN, KDIA and KNEW. In 1966, she became the first African-American woman television reporter on the West Coast when she was hired as an anchor at KPIX-TV in San Francisco

She has won eight local Emmys and a number of Lifetime Achievement awards — including honors from the International Women’s Media Foundation, the National Association of Black Journalists’, and the Northern California chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. Davis is also profiled in the Newseum, the world’s first interactive museum of news.

I immediately knew that Davis should be our FIRST featured “Pioneer BWIB”. Davis, with  a career spanning half a century, has reported many of the most explosive stories of her era, and along the way, she encountered a cavalcade of cultural icons: Malcolm X, Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Nancy Reagan, Huey Newton, Muhammad Ali, Alex Haley, Fidel Castro, Dianne Feinstein, Condoleezza Rice and more.

In her new memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams, Davis offers, “an unflinching account of her struggle to break into broadcast journalism at a time when stories of particular importance to African Americans and women rarely made mainstream newscasts. When news directors preposterously claimed that blacks couldn’t pronounce long words because their lips were “too thick to enunciate properly.” When a San Francisco station manager dismissed her from a job interview by explaining that he just wasn’t “hiring any Negresses.” In 1999 Belva Davis retired from full-time reporting at KRON-TV, but remained on the staff as narrator for the stations’ Documentary series for several years.

Ms. Davis, we salute you, and your perseverance and determination to make your mark in this industry. We thank you for giving us footprints to walk in…you are a True Trailblazer.

“Don’t be afraid of the space between your dreams and reality. If you can dream it, you can make it so.” – Belva Davis

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