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Third Annual Multicultural Media Correspondents Dinner

Source: NurPhoto / Getty

Urban One Founder Cathy Hughes was honored on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) for dedicating her career “to amplifying the voices of Black people and their perspectives through the airwaves.”

Norton added, “Throughout her career, her piercing optimism and resilience cut through obstacles of discrimination and discouragement, clearing a path to where she now stands as one of our country’s wealthiest self-made African-American women.”

Hughes was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Helen Jones Woods, a trombonist with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm at Piney Woods School, who passed away from Covid-19 earlier this year at the age of 956. Her father,   William Alfred Woods, was the first African-American to earn an accounting degree from Creighton University.

“Growing up among a family of entrepreneurs, as Hughes did, she was no stranger to hard work, business jargon, and long hours,” Norton said, acknowledging the radio entrepreneur’s family legacy.

Though Hughes attended the University of Nebraska Omaha and her father’s alma mater, where she took Business Administration courses, she didn’t complete her degree. That led to her getting a job as a sales manager at Howard University’s WHUR-FM radio station and from there the rest was history. In 1980, Hughes and her former husband, Dewey Hughes, purchased their first radio station and launched Radio One. Today she owns 70 stations in addition to TV One and iOne which MadameNoire and our fellow Urban media sites are a part of.

As Norton perfectly summated, “During her career she endured racism and sexism, but these were no match for her electric optimism. …Her resilience, optimism and determination are true guiding lights through these difficult times.”

You can read the full commemoration here.

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