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Cathy Hughes of Radio One Speaks to SBA Staff at Recent Black History Month Event

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Cathy Hughes of Radio One Speaks to SBA Staff at Recent Black History Month Event

By AshleyC
Published: February 22, 2012


SBA employees had the opportunity to hear from Cathy Hughes, the founder of Radio One, who also serves as the Chair of the SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities. 

Hughes, who herself started Radio One with the support of an SBA loan in 1979, now runs the largest black-owned media company in the country, and in 2004 launched TV One, a national cable and satellite television network.

During the event to celebrate African American History Month, Hughes shared her views on the importance of changing the perception of black women in the media.  She highlighted how important it is for people of color to be able to tell their story from their own perspective, and noted that she considers this one of her most important jobs today.  “Our obligation is to tell our story from our perspective is what owning black media is about,” said Hughes.

Hughes shared one anecdote from her past about her ongoing fight against the negative portrayal of African Americans in the media.  After leading a protest against the Washington Post, Hughes was called into a meeting with Katharine Graham.  Hughes remembers Graham asking if her time was better spent protesting or building a media empire of her own.   These remarks resonated with Hughes and since then she has continued to grow her media company and ensure that African Americans have the ability to tell their story in the media.

As Chair of SBA’s Council on Underserved Communities, Hughes has been committed to strengthening entrepreneurship and expanding opportunities for underserved.   One emphasis of her remarks was how important it is for the next generation to have even greater opportunities.  Hughes pointed out that the SBA is an important player in helping to make sure that young people who can’t find jobs know that entrepreneurship is an option. Hughes encouraged SBA employees to help this younger generation create opportunities for themselves and jobs for others by starting their own businesses. 

Hughes, the only African American woman to ever chair a publicly held company, credits SBA with her start.  “SBA was my saving grace,” said Hughes.  Hughes struggled to find funding when she first started in the communications industry, and was turned down by 32 lenders before finally receiving an SBA-backed loan. 

After a brief question and answer session, Hughes conveyed her appreciation for SBA employees who do a “thankless job”.  “I’m saying thank you on behalf of the small business owners you help every day,” said Hughes. 

About the Author:


It’s very rare opportunity to have talk with Cathy Hughes, how I wish I had the opportunity to feature her in my blog and our discussions.
It is great that the Black community is taking steps forward. There really is a wrong image about the black people. They always show the bad things on TV, but their good people, with strong principles.
Very inspirational Thank you.

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