Some of the most attractive and accomplished anchors are Black female newsreaders. Before making their premieres at a television news desk, most started in internships and radio stations before making their premieres.
Here are some of the most well-known Black female newsreaders who made history and some who still report the news.
Carole Simpson holds the distinction as one of the first Black female newsreaders globally to anchor a major network newscast in the United States. She moved from a Chicago radio station to anchor the NBC news in Chicago in 1975.
Simpson was also the first woman of any minority to serve as a moderator in a Presidential debate.
In 1992, she moderated the debate between incumbent President George H.W. Bush, Independent candidate H. Ross Perot, and Democratic candidate Bill Clinton at the University of Richmond.
Carole Simpson was born in 1940 and retired from the news in 2006 to teach journalism. She retired from teaching at Emerson College in 2019.
Barbara Blake Hannah
Though many sources claim Moira Stuart was the first Black newscaster in the UK, the distinction goes to Barbara Blake Hannah.
Hannah was born in Jamaica in 1941. Her father founded the Press Association of Jamaica, so Hannah worked as a newscaster and writer for her father’s news magazine.
She moved to Britain in 1964 and went to work as a reporter in 1968 for “Today” on Thames Television, a role where she interviewed actors like Michael Caine and public figures like Harold Wilson, who was the prime minister.
After nine months, the network removed her because the public didn’t like having a Black newscaster. Though her time as one of the earliest Black female newsreaders was short-lived, she was the first in the UK.
Though the first Black Caribbean female newsreader on British television was Barbara Blake Hannah in 1968, most people recognize Moira Stuart as the first since her appearance on BBC News in 1981.
She’s the first one who maintained a career after her earliest appearances. Her 40+ year career includes multiple BBC television programs, her own music shows, and presenting the news for shows like The Chris Evans Breakfast Show and Classic FM.
Stuart won multiple awards over her long career. In 2001, she received the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for broadcasting. For her services to media, she received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2022.
Born in London in 1949 to parents of Caribbean heritage, she started at the BBC in the 1970s behind the scenes until she read her first radio news in 1978. She moved to a TV anchor spot in 1981.
One of Melba Tolliver’s claims to fame is her refusal to wear a wig or cover her natural hair in 1971 while covering the wedding of President Richard Nixon’s daughter. Tolliver decided not to cover her hair or chemically straighten it.
She worked for ABC local affiliate WABC-TV at the time and wore an afro. The station wanted her to wear a wig or scarf, but she refused and continued to broadcast from the wedding with her natural hair.
The station briefly removed her from the air, but she continued as an anchor until 1976. She moved to WNBC and worked as an anchor until 1980. Tolliver also anchored for eight years at News 12 Long island.
Robin Robinson was born in Chicago and spent 27 years as an anchor at Fox affiliate WFLD in Chicago. Currently, she broadcasts on two AM radio stations. She is one of the Black female newsreaders on AM radio at WBBM and hosts her show “Robin’s Nest” on WVON.
Robinson’s father, Louie Robinson, served as the West Coast editor of Ebony Magazine, so she came from a family where journalism and media were influential.
Her career as one of the country’s earliest Black female newsreaders began in 1979 in San Diego. Three years later, she moved to Denver to report on consumer issues.
Robinson reported for several different news stations until settling in as an anchor at WFLD in Chicago, only leaving in 2014 to switch to radio.
Pat Harvey was born in 1955 in Detroit, Michigan. The National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame inducted her as a member in 2012.
She holds the distinction of being the longest-running prime-time anchor at a single station in Los Angeles. Harvey won 25 local Emmy Awards and one national Emmy Award.
Her other awards include a Genii Award, recognition from the National Association of Black Journalists, and an Associated Press designation as “Best News Anchor.”
She worked in Chicago at small stations and WGN Superstation, where she traveled extensively for breaking stories and interviews before moving to Los Angeles.
Harvey’s award-winning broadcasts include historic interviews like her sit-down with Ferdinand Marcos and hard-hitting investigative reports.
Leslie Sykes currently broadcasts as an anchor on the midday Eyewitness News report at ABC affiliate KABC in Los Angeles.
Born in San Diego in 1965, she grew up in Compton. Sykes started as a newspaper reporter and an intern working behind the scenes at small local TV news programs.
Her first appearance on TV as an anchor was in Mississippi, which led to an anchor position in Louisiana. In 1994, she moved back to LA to her current job at KABC.
Hoda Kotb is one of the nationally recognized Black female newsreaders in the United States because of her longtime career on the NBC News Today show in New York.
Born in 1964 in Oklahoma to parents originally from Egypt, Kotb earned a Bachelor of Arts in broadcast journalism from Virginia Tech and started her career in Mississippi. She worked at several small news programs in a few different states and became a correspondent for Dateline NBC in 1998.
When Today expanded to four hours in 2007, she became the host of the fourth hour, joined by Kathie Lee Gifford as a co-host the following year. Jenna Bush Hager stepped in as co-host when Gifford retired in 2019.
Kotb became part of the first female anchor duo for the Today show after Matt Lauer’s firing in 2018.
Kotb won multiple awards in her career, including an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2002, a Peabody Award in 2006, and a Daytime Emmy Award.
In addition to her Peabody-Award-winning broadcasting, Robin Roberts was the first woman of color to host the game show Jeopardy! She was also the first LGBTQ+ woman to host Jeopardy! when she hosted for a week in 2021 after Alex Trebek’s death.
Roberts required a bone marrow transplant in 2012 after a diagnosis of MDS. She won a Peabody Award for her reports on the rare disease and her struggle.
She started as a sportscaster in 1983 and worked for various news programs across the south until she joined ESPN in 1990. She worked for ESPN on SportsCenter and Good Morning America for several years until she received a promotion to co-anchor of GMA in 2005.
Roberts earned the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism and a Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters in 2018.
Roberts also received the Radio Television Digital News Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018, among other broadcasting awards.
Soledad O’Brien started her career at NBC by writing the news for an affiliate in Boston, then working as a field producer for NBC Nightly News.
O’Brien is a Harvard Graduate who intended to study medicine but switched to an English degree. Her first job in journalism was as a medical reporter in Boston.
She sat at the anchor desk in San Francisco at KRON, then reported from several programs on NBC and MSNBC, including as co-anchor of Weekend Today with David Bloom.
She spent a decade from 2003 to 2013 at CNN and co-hosted several other TV programs. Currently, O’Brien hosts “Matter of Fact With Soledad O’Brien” on the FYI network.
The late Gwen Ifill had a storied career. She was the first African-American woman to host a public affairs program broadcast nationally, Washington Week in Review on PBS, in 1999. She spent several years co-hosting the PBS NewsHour.
Born in Jamaica in 1955, Ifill interned at a newspaper in Boston after she graduated with a degree in communications. She spent several years working for newspapers, including The Washington Post. She first appeared on TV as a reporter on NBC covering Capitol Hill events in 1994.
Ifill moderated Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates and served as a senior correspondent on multiple news programs. She received several awards and induction into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2012.
Ifill died in 2016. Posthumous honors include a New York park named after her and her image on a US US postage stamp.
Best Black Female Newsreaders, Final Thoughts
From the 1960s, Black reporters have been bringing the news into homes around the US and UK, with many going from local stations to national news programs.
Many other countries had Black female newsreaders earlier, but most of the women in this list had to break a glass ceiling to get their anchor jobs.
We hope you find this list of great Black female newsreaders inspiring.