PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — February is Black History Month, and all month long KDKA will be celebrating the history of the local African American community.READ MORE: Drop Box Locations Set up For Mail-In Ballots
Feb. 26, 2019 — A local woman recently made state history. Karen Farmer White is blazing a trail, not only for herself, but also for Pennsylvania’s youngest residents as the first African American chair of the state Board of Education.
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Feb. 19, 2019 — Millions of people have seen the movie “The Green Book” by now, but did you know there was really a Green Book, and the document is about is being screened here in Pittsburgh at the Heinz History Center.
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Feb. 12, 2019 — A look inside the chambers of Judge Kimberly Clark is like taking a walk down memory lane of the awards, accolades and achievements of the family court judge, who’s been on the bench for 20 years.
“I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly,” Judge Clark told KDKA’s Lisa Washington. “Sometimes it seems like yesterday when I started.”
Judge Clark is one of three African American judges out of 43 on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. As of last December, she is the first African American to hold the position of President Judge.
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“The president judge oversees the operations of the Court of Common Pleas,” Clark explained. “I am not the boss of the other 42 judges. Contrary to popular belief, I can’t change a decision they made, but I can do things like look at how cases are designed.”
Clark, a Pittsburgh native and Duquesne Law School graduate, was twice appointed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to serve as an administrative judge and it was also the state Supreme Court that chose Clark to be the President Judge after a tie vote.
“I’m proud to be the first African-American President Judge, but you’d think it would have been before now,” Clark said. “Many of the African American judges who have served on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas were mentors of mine. Any one of them could have easily been in that role and done a fabulous job.”
Clark said in the position that lasts five years, she’d like to do a lot on the court, including improving technology.
About the position, she said, “There is no manual that says these are all the things that a president judge has to do, so I’m learning that on a daily basis.”
Judge Clark is the recipient of the William Rhenquist Award. She was selected out of hundreds of judges across the country.
Clark recalled the moment she learned she’d won.
“It’s a good thing I was sitting down, because I probably would’ve fallen over. I was just shocked and I was thrilled,” she said.
Earning the award came complete with a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court, a dinner in her honor and a chance to meet Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In Clark’s courtroom, she says her motto is serving first.
“I have developed, over the years a servant leadership model for how I run my courtroom. First and foremost, I am a public servant, and that’s how I approach my job,” Clark explained. “I work for every person who comes into this courthouse or who sits in my courtroom because I get paid for the taxpayers. I work for you. I work for them.”
Kimberly Clark – President Judge, Servant, African American trailblazer.READ MORE: Police Investigating After Chick-Fil-A On McKnight Road Robbed
Feb. 5, 2019 — Lynne Hayes-Freeland left the KDKA News Department at the end of last year to embark on a new chapter. After more than 40 years working in television, Lynne is now on the airwaves at KDKA Radio.
The day KDKA’s Lisa Washington visited Freeland at KDKA radio, she arrived at work later than planned, thanks to an early morning snowstorm. Even that didn’t seem to bother LHF, who was ready to begin broadcasting on the airwaves of 1020 KDKA Radio.
“10:09 on a snowy, slippery Friday morning. I am Lynne Hayes Freeland,” Freeland said as she began her broadcast.
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The 40-plus year veteran of KDKA TV is embracing her new role as radio host.
“I’m not going to lie, Lisa, there are days I have to pinch myself and say is this really happening?” Freeland told KDKA’s Lisa Washington.
About radio, Freeland said, “It is very different. We have four hours every day we are live every day, so there is a lot of pressure. For me, it works because we are live. It gives me a chance to still keep my hands in the news without being outside gathering the news.”
Freeland has long been a trailblazer, and that continues with her work at KDKA Radio.
On Jan. 3, 2019, she became the first African-American woman to host a weekday radio show in KDKA Radio’s nearly 100-year history.
“I think it’s sad in 2019 that we’re talking about being a first as a woman, as an African American woman, at the same time, what a blessing to be able to be that first,” said Freeland.
She hasn’t completely left KDKA-TV. Freeland will continue to host her groundbreaking weekly talk show, The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show, now in its 35th year. She’ll also continue to do special reports.
Freeland explained, “I will continue to look for opportunities if there is something that makes sense to do on the TV side.”
She added, “What I won’t do is stand outside in front of a salt pile saying be careful out there, I’m not doing that.”
In her position as radio host, Freeland’s career comes full circle.
“I started out as a producer for the Roy Fox show on KDKA Radio,” she said. “My job was very challenging, I would say hello this is the Roy Fox show. What would you like to talk about? Please hold. And I did that nights while I was in college.”
Now Freeland is learning to push the right buttons and share her opinion on the radio waves.
“I’m learning to say to people, ‘Are you kidding me, what are you drinking, what are you smoking?” she laughed.
“You have to kind of grow into that , because it’s not something that comes natural when you have a news background.”
Freeland continued, “The other challenge- radio is a one-on-one medium. People don’t listen to the radio in a group. They’re alone, in the car, in their kitchen. So that challenge is to provide a compelling enough conversation that I engage that one person in their car or in their home and then keep their attention for 15 minutes or four hours.”
Helping Lynne keep the attention of listeners is longtime KDKA Radio producer, Timira Rush.
“When I got the opportunity to work with her, it was like great,” said Rush. “So now there’s someone who looks like me.”
About Freeland, Rush added, “ I always looked up to her for as far as being in the media and where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do.”
While Freeland admits she’s still settling into this new role, the weight of it is not lost on her.
Freeland said, “You spend most of your life, your career, preparing for a moment- a time, and for me, I feel like I was preparing for a moment like this, because it’s a needed voice in the marketplace, it’s a needed voice in talk radio.”
“I know that whatever happens to me in this experiment, will determine who gets to come behind me.”
Stay with KDKA all February long for more feature stories on Black History Month.