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Sandra Hughes

Journalist Sandra Hughes was born on October 18, 1946 in Durham, North Carolina. While her biological father was Alexander Cotton, she was raised by her mother Alice Marie Amis Daye, a housekeeper, and her stepfather Charlie Alfred Daye, an auto mechanic. Hughes graduated from Notre Dame High School in 1964 and went on to attend North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she earned her B.S. degree in English education in 1969.

Hughes worked briefly as a technical publications editor for Western Electric upon graduating, but was hired in 1972 as a general assignment reporter by WFMY-TV in 1972. She became the first African American woman to host her own daily talk show in the Piedmont, in 1974, with Sandra and Friends. In 1976, she was the first female broadcaster invited to participate in the European Communities’ Visitors Program. Hughes was the first African American woman in the Southeast to host the nationally syndicated PM Magazine, in 1978. She joined Lee Kinard in hosting the Good Morning Show in 1985. That same year, Hughes was appointed manager of WFMY-TV’s community affairs department, where she started the “2 Those Who Care” initiative in 1989. In 1990, Hughes returned to the newsroom as the 6 p.m. evening news anchor. She spearheaded the Minority Broadcast Development Program in 1992. Hughes retired from WFMY-TV in 2010, and began teaching at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University the following year as an adjunct professor of journalism.

Hughes received the Edward R. Murrow award for news reporting from the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce in 1981, and was the first African American in the Piedmont to receive the award. She was recognized by North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 1995 as a Distinguished Alumnus. In 2002, she received the North Carolina Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine, and July 24th of that year was proclaimed “Sandra Daye Hughes” Day by the Guilford County Commissioners. She has won multiple “Best of Gannett” awards for news anchoring and specific programs, and was named an “Unsung Hero” by the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in 2006. Hughes was given the Sojourner Truth Award by the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. in 2009, and the newsroom at WFMY-TV was renamed “The Sandra Daye Hughes Information Center” the following year. Also, in 2010, The National Academy of Television Art & Sciences inducted Hughes into the Silver Circle, the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters inducted her into the Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame, and she received an honorary doctorate of humanities from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, her alma mater. Hughes received the Chuck Stone Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2014.

Hughes lives in Greensboro, North Carolina with her husband. She has two children and two grandchildren. Hughes had a third child who passed away in 1984.

Sandra Hughes was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 13, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.181

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/13/2014

Last Name

Hughes

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Marie

Schools

Our Lady Of The Miraculous Medal School

Notre Dame High School

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Durham

HM ID

HUG07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

The Beach

Favorite Quote

Never Give Up.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

10/18/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Greensboro

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Tomatoes

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Sandra Hughes (1946 - ) was the first African American female talk show host in the Piedmont region and the first African American woman to host PM Magazine in the Southeast.

Employment

North Carolina A&T State University

WFMY-TV

Western Electric Company

Kmart

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sandra Hughes' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sandra Hughes lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sandra Hughes describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sandra Hughes remembers her mother's personality, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sandra Hughes describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sandra Hughes describes her stepfather's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sandra Hughes describes her early family life

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sandra Hughes remembers her mother's personality, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sandra Hughes lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sandra Hughes describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sandra Hughes describes the Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sandra Hughes recalls her early experiences of bullying

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sandra Hughes describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sandra Hughes remembers her favorite television shows

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sandra Hughes recalls her early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sandra Hughes remembers the sit-ins at Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sandra Hughes describes the segregation of Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sandra Hughes remembers the sit-ins at Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Sandra Hughes remembers witnessing discrimination against her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Sandra Hughes describes her experiences at Notre Dame High School in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sandra Hughes describes her experiences at Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sandra Hughes recalls her audition for the Richard B. Harrison Players

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sandra Hughes recalls her husband's conscription into the Vietnam War

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sandra Hughes describes her position at the Western Electric Company

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sandra Hughes remembers the Greensboro uprising of 1969

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sandra Hughes talks about her husband's military service in Vietnam

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sandra Hughes describes how she came to work for WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sandra Hughes describes her role as a reporter at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sandra Hughes recalls the threats against her as a black woman broadcast journalist

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sandra Hughes talks about balancing her career and family

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sandra Hughes describes her talk show, 'Sandra and Friends'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sandra Hughes recalls the celebrity guests on 'Sandra and Friends'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sandra Hughes describes the WFMY-TV show, 'PM Magazine'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sandra Hughes describes the European Community Visitors Program

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sandra Hughes remembers the Greensboro massacre

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sandra Hughes recalls the death of her youngest son, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sandra Hughes recalls the death of her youngest son, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sandra Hughes remembers the WFMY-TV helicopter crash

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sandra Hughes talks about her position on WFMY-TV's 'Good Morning Show'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sandra Hughes recalls becoming an evening news anchor at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sandra Hughes describes her awards and honors

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sandra Hughes talks about the Minority Broadcast Development Program at WFMY-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sandra Hughes remembers the stories she covered at WFMY-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sandra Hughes reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sandra Hughes describes her hopes for the African American community in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sandra Hughes reflects upon her career

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Sandra Hughes talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Sandra Hughes talks about the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Sandra Hughes describes her teaching position at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Tape: 5 Story: 14 - Sandra Hughes describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 15 - Sandra Hughes talks about her award from the National Association of Black Journalists

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sandra Hughes narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sandra Hughes narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$2

DAStory

4$2

DATitle
Sandra Hughes describes her talk show, 'Sandra and Friends'
Sandra Hughes recalls her early experiences of bullying
Transcript
So I went into the TV station [WFMY-TV, Greensboro, North Carolina] after about two years, and I told the general manager, I said, "I, I just don't think I can do this anymore." I said, "I need to have a nine to five [o'clock] kind of job, in an office," da, da, da, da, da, da. And he says, "Well, what do you want to do? If you--we want you to stay here. What do you want to do?" And I said, "I'd like to do a talk show." And he said, "A talk show?" I said, "Yeah." And he said, "What kind of talk show?" He said, "Go, go do one, show me what it looks like." I was so excited. So I went and put together this little thirty minute show. I invited a lady that I know that has a modeling agency and all this kind of stuff and we set up a little set there in the studio and I interviewed her and I was just, I mean, I'll tell you, it was like somebody says, you can have Christmas every day. And I went back and showed it to him and he said, "Okay, we'll do that," and I thought, god, are you serious? And so, every day, from 1:00 to 1:30 'Sandra and Friends' was on the air and that's the most fun I ever had in TV. For one thing, I could do anything I wanted to do. I could interview the mayor, I could interview the homeless guy, I could, anything, it was all up to me. Now I had to do all the work. I had to do the producing and the writing and, but, but I just, I was having a ball and I'd bring my little girl, by that time she was toddling around, you know, and she'd stand and look at the lights and I was saying, "Look at the camera, honey, look," and she'd be looking all over, and--the one whose husband [Christopher Harris] was just here a little bit ago. And that's when the real ugliness started. That's when the bomb threat started, when people would call in and say there is a bomb in that studio and it's going to go off, you know, such and such a time. Well, of course, they'd call the police and here come the police and the bomb squad and the drug sniffing and bomb sniffing dogs and they'd take all of the guests out of the studio, everybody in the whole TV station had to evacuate but I said, you know, doggone it, I've gone this far, I'm not going to leave. So I would sit there, like this in front of the camera and I would say, "Well, today is Wednesday and we're going to be talking, sometime this week, to a lady who's having a community event and that money's going to raise money for children who have, don't have money to buy school supplies." And I would just talk for thirty minutes, until the show was over. So after about a year and a half of that, I think the people who were calling in the threats thought, lord, if we have to sit and listen to her talk again for thirty minutes--let's not call in anymore bomb threats. Then they started threatening my daughter. That got me. They would call and say, and would wait 'til I got on the show at one o'clock, they'd call in and say that, Tiffany [Tiffany Hughes Harris] is her name, that Tiffany had been hurt in a fieldtrip accident and that she was at the hospital and I need to get there right away. And then, you know, it's that she's been in an accident, it was all kind of horrible things that they would call and say about her. Well at that, after me--$$Just trying to disrupt the show, trying to get you to leave (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Yes, trying to get me to get off that TV, and I went the first time, but it was nothing. So after that, when those calls would come in, other people in the TV station now, two or three of 'em in particular, would take, they would take the call, they'd take off to the daycare, which was only about a mile down the street from where we were to see if she was there or find out what was going on and then when I'd get off the air at 1:30, they'd say, "Well, got one of those calls today." I said--you know, but they, they were trying to help me stay, stay on there, but that's when I said, that's it, you know, hurt me, scare me, attack me but not my little baby. So I said, I just won't do this anymore. My husband [Larry Hughes, Sr.] and, you know, I was telling you all my family was here, he's from here so his parents and his brothers and sisters, and he had nine of them, and my mother [Alice Amis Daye] and brothers and sisters, everybody came and said, "Do you like what you're doing?" I said, "Yes, I have a--now I have a passion for TV." They said, "Do you want to keep doing it?" "Yes, I want to keep doing it." "Well, this is what we're going to do. We're going to develop a safety net around you so you can't fall. We're going to keep our eyes on the baby, keep our eyes on your house, your car, you, your husband, everybody. So if something happens, really happens, you'll get a call from me, mommy, auntie or whatever, cousin, that says, 'Yeah, you need to come home' or, 'You need to do whatever.'" And they said, "So, go, go do it." And that, it's almost like that put wings on me. Then I just really started enjoying what I was doing because I thought I've got these people who, who've got my back. And the people in the TV station had started rallying too. You know, like I said, they would go run and see about something that they heard and wouldn't, wouldn't tell me about it. When we'd go, let's say if a bunch of us went out to lunch or out to dinner or something, it's, the guys almost treated me like they were bodyguards, you know, watching (laughter) and making sure nobody did anything. So from that point on, you know, I just, I just, I fell more and more and more in love with television.$I liked to write poems and stories and I used to love to tell stories. I mean that was just, I'll never forget coming home at night and we'd all gather in the kitchen because that was the warmest room in the house and my mother [Alice Amis Daye] was cooking and I'd sit there and just tell--I'd entertain the family, telling stories, telling jokes, making up things to tell and my dad [Hughes' stepfather, Charlie Daye] would laugh so hard, tears would run down his face and he said, "This girl, I'll tell you, I'm going to drive her to California so she can be on 'The Ed Sullivan Show'" (laughter).$$When 'Ed Sullivan' was in New York [New York].$$Yeah, but he said California and I thought, I believed him.$$What a waste of gas. So, what were some of your stories? (Unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Oh, I'd tell stories about things that happened in school [Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School, Greensboro, North Carolina] that day and I'd always try to make them funny. We had a lot of bullies in school and that wasn't funny but I would try to turn it into a funny story about how one day two of the girls, the head bullies, told my sister, who was about fourteen months younger than I am, they says, "Today, we're going to beat you up and so you meet down in the park," there's a park next to the school, "meet us at the park so you can get your beating this afternoon." Well, I was sort of a timid child and I was just scared to death and I said to my sister, "You're not going." She says, "Oh, yes, I am." She was almost, a lot braver than me. And so, all day long, I kept thinking, gosh, I can't let her go by herself because then mother's going to get me when I get home for letting her do that. So, my best friend, Ann Mitchell [ph.], says, "Why are you so upset?" And I said, "'Cause Faye's [Hughes' half-sister, Faye Daye Kahn] getting beat up today down in the park." And I said, "And I don't know what to do." And she says, "Well I don't either but I'll go with you." And so then, Ann's cousin was there and she said to Ann, "What's wrong with you?" And she said, "Well, Sandra's sister, Faye, is going to get beat up at the park today and I've got to go with her 'cause Sandra's [HistoryMaker Sandra Hughes] scared to go." And so then the cousin says, "Well, okay, I'll go with you." And so then the cousin told her best friend, Vicky Adams [ph.], "Faye's getting beat up at the park today, so I'm going to go with Ann and Ann's going to go with Sandra and Sandra's going to think--." And so Vicky said, "Well, I'll go with you." And so, when we showed up at the park that afternoon, we had this big entourage of people and the two girls, who didn't expect that, said to my sister, "Well, we'll just get you another day." So (laughter) (makes sound), thank goodness. And my, my baby brother, the youngest one, was in a nursery school across the street from our school and we'd have to go and pick him up and, and run home with him, run, because, since we lived in the housing projects [Morningside Homes, Greensboro, North Carolina], we wore uniforms. We had a navy blue jumper with a white puff sleeved blouse, white socks and brown tie up shoes, the Buster Brown shoes, and my brothers [Hughes' half-brothers, Charles Daye and Michael Daye] had to wear navy blue trousers, a long sleeve shirt and a blue necktie. Well, if we walked down through public housing in that getup, we'd have rocks thrown at us, sticks, we'd get pushed and, you know, because we were weird. We just looked weird to them. So we got out of school about ten or fifteen minutes before the public schools got out so, I, we'd run across the street, grab my little brother, I'd put him on my hip and we'd take off home as fast as we could to get home to take these uniforms off, and that was tough. And my sister did get in lots of scrapes 'cause she'd get home and her sleeve was torn off and (laughter), and she would drag her toes of her shoes on the sidewalk as we're walking so her shoes were all scuffed up, but I'll tell you, when we woke up the next morning, those shoes would be shined, standing tall, sleeves sewn back onto the shirt and my mother said, "'Cause you're going to that school" (laughter), okay, that was that.