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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sarah-Ann Shaw, Boston’s first Black TV reporter, dies age 90

Sarah-Ann Shaw, the first African American news reporter to air on Boston television, passed away at the age of 90 on March 21. Shaw leaves behind a trailblazing legacy for her years of service at WBZ-TV. 

According to her biography from Roxbury Community College, she was born at the New England Hospital, now known as the Dimock Center. Shaw graduated from Boston University and was hired as the “first Black woman reporter at WBZ-TV” in 1969. [1]

Not only was she the face of African American issues on television, Shaw also reported on Asian and Latino residents of Massachusetts. She was equally invested in all groups of color, credited in her biography with “trying to dispel stereotypes held by Whites” and “providing all people with the same social, economic, and educational opportunities.” [1]

In her life, Shaw cared greatly about many social issues in Boston. CBS News writes, “She was the first woman of color to be an on-air reporter at WBZ, giving a face and a voice to Boston’s disadvantaged – the homeless, the hungry, women in need of help and children in need of better lives. She also reported on all of the good in the communities throughout Massachusetts.” [2]

Shaw was a regular contributor to other channels as well. For example, WGBH’s television series “Basic Black,” which was created in 1968, then going by the title “Say Brother.” WGBH describes it as the “longest-running program on public television…created during the height of the civil rights movement as a response to the demand for public television programs reflecting the concerns of communities of color.” [3]

The intrepid Mrs. Shaw was a proponent of civil rights and a lifelong activist of issues such as affordable housing. She found her way onto WGBH after working at Action for Boston Community Development in the late ’60s, “providing insightful coverage of fights over school desegregation, urban renewal and expanding political representation for communities of color,” according to the Bay State Banner. [4]

Colleagues, friends and family remember Shaw as a gentle, but persistent, moral beacon.

“She shamed management into covering stories they didn’t want to run—stories that had an impact on communities of color,” said Azita Ghahramani, who worked with Shaw at WBZ in the 1990s, in her interview for the Bay State Banner. “She was such a presence in the newsroom, always fighting for the underdog. I remember her persistence, never raising her voice, but digging in a way to amplify the voices she wanted to be heard. She taught me how to be a respectful squeaky wheel.” [4]

Sources: 

  1. https://www.rcc.mass.edu/images/_existing-folders/banners/legends-of-roxbury/Bio_for_Sarah-Ann_Shaw.pdf
  2. https://www.cbsnews.com/boston/news/sarah-ann-shaw-wbz-boston-first-black-woman-tv-news-reporter-dies-obituary/
  3. https://www.wgbh.org/tv-shows/basic-black
  4. https://baystatebanner.com/2024/03/27/sarah-ann-shaw-the-passing-of-a-boston-news-pioneer/