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Mollie Belt

Newspaper CEO and publisher Mollie Finch-Belt was born on August 7, 1943 in Dallas, Texas. Finch-Belt’s mother, Mildred, was a mathematics instructor; her father, Fred J. Finch, Jr., founded the Dallas Examiner in 1986. But after publishing only one issue, Belt’s mother and father were murdered in their home. In 1961, Finch-Belt graduated from Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas. After briefly attending Spelman College, she enrolled at the University of Denver where she graduated with her B.A. degree in sociology and psychology in 1965.

Upon graduation, Finch-Belt began working as an employment counselor for the Texas Employment Commission. She then held positions in the Harris County Manpower Program and for City of Dallas where she administered the Title IV program. Between 1977 and 1997, Finch-Belt was a branch chief in the Civil Rights Compliance Department for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 1997, Finch-Belt and her husband, attorney James C. Belt, Jr., invested their personal resources to revitalize the Dallas Examiner. In 1998, with a grant from AT&T, she started Future Speak, a publication aimed at developing young minority journalists. Finch-Belt has also used the Dallas Examiner to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention by publishing numerous articles and supplements, including “PROBE,”  “Battling AIDS in Our Communi ty” (2003) and “Innocence Lost” (2004). Finch-Belt also hosted public programs such as an HIV/AIDS town hall meeting at the Inspiring Body of Christ Church in Dallas, Texas. She also co-hosted the Youth Angle luncheon on World AIDS Day with Paul Quinn College. Since assuming editorial responsibilities of the Dallas Examiner, Finch-Belt has continued her father’s dream of providing the Dallas African American community with its own news service.

Finch-Belt is a member of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has led the the Dallas Examiner to win numerous national, state and local awards, including the prestigious Katie Awards. The Dallas Examiner was named “Best Weekly Newspaper” in 2002 by the Texas Publisher’s Association awarded; and, in 2004, it received twelve awards from the regional chapter of National Association of Black Journalists, including “Best Newspaper” and “Best Practices.”

Finch-Belt lives in Dallas with her husband, attorney James C. Belt, Jr. They have two children, James C. Belt, III, advertising manager at the Dallas Examiner, and Melanie Belt, M.D.

Mollie Finch-Belt was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 29, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.023

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/29/2013

Last Name

Belt

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Finch

Schools

George Carver Elementary

Lincoln High School

Spelman College

University of Denver

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Mollie

Birth City, State, Country

Dallas

HM ID

BEL06

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

South Padre Island, Texas

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Texas

Birth Date

8/7/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dallas

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Newspaper publishing chief executive Mollie Belt (1943 - ) , daughter of Dallas Examiner founder Fred J. Finch, Jr., has been CEO and publisher of the Dallas Examiner since 1997.

Employment

Texas Employment Commission

Harris County Manpower Program

City of Dallas

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Dallas Examiner

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mollie Belt's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mollie Belt lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mollie Belt describes her mother's family background, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mollie Belt describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mollie Belt talks about her mother's experiences growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mollie Belt describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mollie Belt describes her father's work for the Department of Defense and his joining the Air Force

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mollie Belt describes her childhood experiences in Tuskegee, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mollie Belt describes her experience in Cambridge, Massachusetts while her father attended Harvard Law School

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mollie Belt describes her similarities to her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mollie Belt describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood, pt.1

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mollie Belt describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood, pt.2

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mollie Belt talks about attending school in Tuskegee, Cambridge, Massachusetts and Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mollie Belt describes going to the library with her mother and meeting Eleanor Roosevelt in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mollie Belt describes her mother's teaching school and her attending schools in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mollie Belt talks about the integration of schools in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mollie Belt talks about her experience at Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mollie Belt describes her reasons for attending Spelman College

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mollie Belt describes her reasons for not wanting to return to Spelman College after her freshman year

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mollie Belt describes the atmosphere at Spelman College in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mollie Belt describes her experience at the University of Denver

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mollie Belt describes her post graduation search for employment in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mollie Belt describes her experience in Harlingen, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mollie Belt describes her experience living and working in Houston for the Manpower Program and her move to Dallas

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mollie Belt describes the changes in Dallas from the 1960s to the 1970s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mollie Belt describes working in Dallas for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mollie Belt describes how her father started The Dallas Examiner

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mollie Belt talks about her father's role in starting The Dallas Examiner

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mollie Belt talks about the murder of her parents during a home burglary

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mollie Belt describes taking over ownership of The Dallas Examiner after her parents' death, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mollie Belt describes taking over ownership of The Dallas Examiner after her parents' death, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mollie Belt describes the demographics of Dallas, Texas

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mollie Belt describes the changes she made to The Dallas Examiner after her father died

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mollie Belt talks about Future Speak program for area youth, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mollie Belt talks about Future Speak, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mollie Belt describes the key issues covered by The Dallas Examiner Newspaper

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mollie Belt talks about The Dallas Examiner's coverage of HIV/AIDS, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mollie Belt talks about The Dallas Examiner's coverage of HIV/AIDS, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mollie Belt describes The Dallas Examiner's coverage of the arts, and its editorial section

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mollie Belt reflects upon her legacy and the legacy of The Dallas Examiner

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mollie Belt talks about what she might have done differently

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mollie Belt describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Mollie Belt talks about the future of The Dallas Examiner

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mollie Belt talks about the relevance of print media

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mollie Belt talks about her children

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mollie Belt describes the state of Texas politics, pt.1

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mollie Belt describes the state of Texas politics, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mollie Belt talks about The Dallas Examiner's freelance employees

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mollie Belt talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mollie Belt describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

3$4

DATitle
Mollie Belt describes taking over ownership of The Dallas Examiner after her parents' death, pt.1
Mollie Belt talks about The Dallas Examiner's coverage of HIV/AIDS, pt.2
Transcript
So you're working at this time and you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--I'm working at the federal government.$$So you could have, you know, kept working and (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--I did for a while; I did continue working for a while and I'd come over here to the office at night and we'd--well, no. When that happened, you remember, I took a year's leave of absence, so I was over at the paper every day; that was kinda like my therapy. My whole thing was my father's vision, he'd worked so hard to start this paper that I just had to see it continue, and so it was at it's very infant stages. In order to join like NNPA [National Newspapers Publishers Association] or API [Amalgamated Publishers Incorporated], you had to join--you had to print 52 issues, so I had to make sure that 50--that--and it's hard printing 52 issues. I know advertising. And it was hard then and it's hard today to get advertising in black newspapers. So I stayed there at the office, I wasn't a publi--I wasn't a publisher that was going out; I didn't even put my name on the pa--on the (unclear) of the paper. I owned the paper but I didn't--Charles was the editor. And so I sat there and we worked, made sure we joined API, NNPA and, you know, I would help assign stories and things. We had freelance writers and, you know, stuff like that, but I did not go out to events and things; I just kinda stayed locked up in that building like--go there to--so after--I guess I took a leave maybe a year, a year and a half, may have been two years and--that I went back to work, and it was just--my son was here, you know, going to college, and he was like distributing the paper part time; you know, distribution's a part-time job, and he would run over there to my office downtown and, you know, I'd have--to get me to sign stuff and do stuff. And I loved the work that I was doing; I'm very interested in health care but I just could not continue to do the paper and that job. And because I supervised people, it's very difficult when you supervise people for the federal government; you can't fire 'em (laughter). You know, you can't fire them, so you know, you have to develop them. And, and, and I guess they thought I was a good manager because they always gave me some really hard employee to deal with, so that meant you gotta work--do the employment development plans and all that kinda stuff, you know? They don't have satisfactory evaluation; it just was a--so that stress plus, you know--my supervisor would say things to me like, 'Well Mollie, do you realize that you want off just about every Friday?' 'So-what? I'm the highest performer in the office; so-what if I take off every Friday, I have the leave.' At that time, when I was taking off every Friday, my kids were in college and so my, my, my husband and I--he--I had a good friend and a little boy got him put out of his home; he was a high school student at Desota (ph.) High School, so she called me and asked me did I know of some family that could take him in and he could live with 'cause he was living with the coach and his coach's wife was pregnant and he was sleeping on the sofa in the living room and that just wasn't good. And I told my husband, I said, 'Do you know somebody?' And he said, 'Well how come he can't come stay with us?' Well, I guess he could, you know. We had plenty of room, so we took him in and he ran track, so we'd go to track meets every Friday, you know. But I just got tired of that, you know, that, that structure of having to ask somebody can I be off on Friday. And I just decided that, you know, the best thing for me to do is just to work at the paper full-time, so I took an early retirement and started working at the paper. My husband and I had contributed just--I don't even wanna add up the money that we put into the paper from the time my father died because the paper, it just--it was not sustaining itself.$$Now was your husband a partner with your father before?$$No.$$Okay.$$Well, no--yeah, a law partner--$$Yeah.$$--in the law office, but not with the paper.$It's not just gay men disease.' He say, 'Okay,' he say, 'you can have it here.' It was on a Wednesday night. He say, 'You can have it on one condition.' I say, 'What's that?' He said, 'I wanna meet Danny Glover.' I say, 'Okay.' I say, 'I'm supposed to go out there and meet him at the airport at 6:00.' And I told him the morning I'm gone' meet him and--because with--I took--arranged to take him to all the radio--black radio stations so that he could go on and tell people to come to the Town Hall meeting, you know, and talk about AIDS. So Rickie [Reverend Ricky Rush] met me out there at the hotel and he ended up riding with me to all the venues to take Danny [Glover] so he could get out and go in and talk. And he asked me, he said, 'Well, what you gone' do about feedin' him?' He say, 'I'll have my people at the church fix dinner.' I say, 'Well that will be wonderful.' He said, 'And I'll get my people to help park the cars that night.' I said, 'That's fine.' He said, 'Well Mollie, what do you think I oughta wear?' I said, 'What you oughta wear? I don't know, whatever you wanna wear.' He's a real little man, you know. So--then I thought; he had been wearing fatigue wear with boots, to fight drugs, you know, in the community. And he wore the fatigue like a war on drugs. I say, 'It's a war on AIDS so wear your fatigue tonight,' and he say, 'Okay.' So he wore his fatigue and he stood up there in the pulpit and he told--we had about a thousand people in the church and he told them to go get tested. We had the County Health Department; all these AIDS agents had their testing stuff, we had rooms inside the church and mobiles outside. He say, 'Go get tested now,' and they went and got tested; we tested about 200 that night, and then a lotta people got tested after then. I would go in a restaurant, and I'd see people and they'd say, 'I want you to know I heard it on the radio and I went and got tested,' 'cause we had it broadcast live on the black radio stations. So then the next year we did PROBE, you know. We did--that was another health--AIDS supplement. You know, it's kinda like--and you know when I think about it, we never got money to publish the--to, to, to pay for the printing--The Dallas Examiner, we incurred those costs. Because it is so hard getting advertising. The thing that helped me with the first supplement was one company and one man I met who worked for Pfizer and he was in governmental affairs, and he got it; he called the people up in New York at Pfizer and told them to buy a full-page, full-color ad and, and, and I had that in there. But it's--we did the supplements. We've done other supplements, too--$$Okay.$$--we do.$$So when you deal with a story, you rally the community around--you do education forums and all, you know (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--Yeah, with AIDS we did; we, we had several programs with AIDS; we had one out at Paul Quinn College, with a nurse, to get--we did the same thing, had the mobile unit out there to get those students tested. We don't do that with everything; it just depends on what the issue is--$$Okay.$$--you know. I don't wanna say we're known for those events.