Interviewee: Beatrice L. Hines
Interviewer: Nicole M. Arnold
Date: October 19, 1995
Q: So, basically, start from the beginning.
A: You mean how I started at the Herald?
Q: Actually, let's just start with your family first and your childhood.
A: Well, I was born in Williston, Florida, which is near Gainesville and my parents
separated when I was five and my brother was two. My mother moved here with
us to Miami. I went to school here, and graduated from Booker T. Washington
High School in 1956, before you were even thought about. A year later I married
a young man named James Fredric Hines. I had a scholarship in voice to
Huntsville college, but it was a small scholarship and my mother was afraid that
she would not be able to keep me there, and she did not want me to be
disappointed. So the idea was we were going to work and save our money, but
then this guy that I had a crush on since I was nine years old swept me off my
feet, and we used the money for a wedding. I was twenty-four when he was
killed; he was twenty-seven. I had two sons. Rick, who is my older son, and
Shawn, who is a student at the University of Miami in the Law School. This is his
last year in law school. They are both married and Rick has three children, three
daughters. Shawn has one daughter. My mother is seventy-six years old, and
just had knee replacement surgery. Otherwise, she is as strong as I do not know
My life is not that colorful. It is just sort of ordinary. I was working as a maid
when I read the paper. I was reading the paper one Sunday and saw an ad. I
wanted to get a better job, because the job that I was on, the people were nice
to me, but there were no benefits. I could not take my children on vacations, and
I never got a paid vacation. And so at age twenty-seven I was sitting down one
Sunday afternoon after church reading the comics section to my children and
then I was looking over the ads. I saw an ad that said, "We Are An Equal
Opportunity Employer," and it was The Miami Herald. They were looking for a
file clerk. At the time I was waiting for an answer from a bank to be a teller
trainee and the woman in the employment office at the bank told me that I was
one of two finalists. So I was almost sure I was going to get that job, but in the
meantime someone said not to throw my eggs in one basket, to keep looking.
This was in 1965 when things were changing for black people in Dade County,
and I had purposely looked for the ads that said, "We Are An Equal Opportunity
Employer," because that meant that they would possibly hire black people. Not
everyone who said that, though, meant that they had to do it because it was
required. I know I went through a lot of phone interviews where when they
realized that I was black they would tell me that the job was filled as of that
moment. That kind of hurt, so when I saw the ad from The Miami Herald, I
decided that I would not call, that I would write a letter of application and I sent a
resume. I really believe that it impressed them that I knew what a resume was,
although it said all of nothing. I had only finished high school, and that was nine
years prior, and I said so on the resume. I used to type forty words per minute. I
was real honest. Not realizing that I would even be thought of and to my surprise
they sent me a letter. I mailed that letter that Monday, and the next week I got a
letter asking me to come in on my next off day which was Wednesday for an
interview. That is how I got the job. That is how I got my feet in the door at The
Miami Herald. I started work, this was in December of 1965, and I started
working at the library January 4, which was a Monday, 1966. I did not know at
the time that this was a first kind of situation, a first black situation at The Miami
Herald. They had a white person working on the clerical position in the editorial
department. There were blacks working there when I started, but the blacks who
were working there were either in the Social Security department, because the
Social Security department agency rented space on the sixth floor at the time,
so black people were working in the building, but not for the Herald. Except for
the pressmen, the guys who would mix the ink and the maintenance crew. But
they did not have blacks in any clerical positions. I was so naive I thought gee,
these people are so good to work for, they are taking me around. The managing
editor took me around and introduced me to all the big shots, and I thought that
is what they did to all of the employees, the new employees. I realized some
time later that they did it because I was black, and this was the first thing. It was
a new beginning for the Herald and a new beginning for me.
Q: Did they hire you purposely because they wanted to start hiring blacks into the
Herald, and you just happened...
A: It just happened that I am sure other people applied for that position, but I
prayed about it, and I believe that the time was right for them to accept a black
person. I think that it was open to anyone, but they did have, "We Are An Equal
Opportunity Employer." So I am sure I was one of many people who applied. As
a matter of fact, I did not see any other black people applying for that job when I
went. I am just really glad I had the nerve to write that letter.
Q: Were a lot of blacks scared off?
A: I think so because, yeah, they were frightened because for instance when I
would call certain ads, answer certain ads in the paper, and they would say, "We
Are An Equal Opportunity Employer," and they really were not. They had to do
that because the government required them to do it, and so many times I got
my feelings hurt, and so I was almost not going to do this, but I said all they can
do is say no, and to my surprise they said yes! So, I worked in the library for a
year before I started back to school at Miami-Dade. I was studying education at
first; I thought I wanted to teach art to children. I love art and I love children and I
love music, so it was going to be one or the other. My mother did not think I
could ever get a job as a journalist in Miami, in the South, and she would not
keep my children if I had told her I was studying journalism.
Q: Did you work while you were going to school?
A: I worked. I went part-time for a while, then I went full-time and I was still working.
But my mother was a tremendous help to me because my children were little.
When I started at The Miami Herald Shawn had just turned five I believe, he is
thirty-four now, so, let me see, I will be there thirty years in January, so he was
four. He had just turned four. Anyway, my mother and I, after my husband was
killed, we lived together for a long time, for twelve years.
Q: Do you mind me asking how your husband was killed?
A: He was killed in a bar room fight. It was a terrible thing. I normally do not like to
even talk about it. It happens, you know? Anyway, we lived together for good
while, about twelve years. So, all the time I was in school my mother was such a
help to me. But it was so funny, one day I had this wonderful boss in the library
at the Herald who would allow me to, his name was Luis Bueno, and he just
really is a wonderful man in my book because I needed somebody to
understand that I was trying to better myself, and a lot of employers wouldn't
have cared about that, and I told him I was going back to school and he said
when you get your schedule of classes we will work your schedule around your
classes. That is what he did. So, one night I was working in the evening and the
book editor at the time for The Miami Herald was also the vice- president of
development for Miami-Dade, and we became friends because we worked, he
would be in there picking up the books to review and I would be working at night
and we would talk and one night I asked him if he would look at a paper I had to
turn in. He did and he told me it was an excellent paper and asked if I had
thought about a career in journalism. He told me that he was serious and that I
had a future here and that things were not going to be this way always. I thought
to myself that he knew what he was talking about. So, he talked me into
changing my major to journalism and he told me he wanted to look up my
teacher. Her name was Barbara Garfunkel and he wanted me to get in her
class. That is how I got hooked on journalism.
Q: Was this at Miami-Dade?
A: At Miami-Dade Community College. I had always liked writing. I always thought
that maybe one day I would write this great novel and that would be my
contribution. I had no idea that I would ever be able to write for The Miami
Herald. Which I loved. I love that paper. I always read it cover to cover. I
recognized different writers even without reading their bylines; I knew who wrote
this or that article because I was so familiar with their style. At that time my two
mentors there were Juanita Greene, who is retired now, and Charlie Whited,
who died a few years ago. Oh, I just loved him. I love Juanita. She is retired and
lives in the Keys now. But I knew their writing so well. When I came to work
there I was just so thrilled. I remember the first day, I had been there for about
two days when Charlie Whited came to the library and introduced himself. He
said he was Charlie Whited and welcomed me aboard. It just made my day. I
went home and told my children. Everyday I would go home and report to them
what happened at work, because they were little and they wanted to know about
my job at The Miami Herald; at the "newspaper," as they would call it. So I would
tell them things that happened to me, and that particular day I told them about
Charlie Whited coming in and I showed them his picture in the paper. Every day
from then on for the longest [time] when I would leave for work, Ricky would ask
me to tell Mr. Charlie Whited we said hi. He was nice to their mom and they
liked that. They were proud of that.
I was there for four and a half years in the library when I got the job as a reporter,
and I had not finished college. I still had some hours to go. I have started back
many times, but things keep stopping me before getting a degree. The way it
happened is that we had had a black reporter, two as a matter of fact, two men,
who were there briefly. One was a guy who had gone to school with me from
elementary school. He is a teacher, actually he is an assistant principal now at
Douglass. But at the time every other city was going up in flames, riots were
happening, it was right after Martin Luther King was killed, and they were trying
to avoid that from happening, to keep that from happening in Miami. They hired
Thuralee Smith, who was a dear friend of mine, he was the first black reporter
they hired. Thuralee worked for a while, but he really did not want to do that.
Teaching was his heart. Then they hired another guy named Grandville Reed,
who worked full-time. He left to go to work for a TV station, I believe, in Tampa,
Florida. For a while we had a young black guy who worked part-time in sports,
his name slips my memory right now, but he used to be president of the National
Association of Black Journalists. Bobby Reed. He worked part-time in sports, but
I was the first full-time black woman that they all hired. I was hired to cover
general assignment in the newsroom. I got my job in June of 1970. It was so
funny, everybody knew I had been moved up to that position but me. I was off on
a Monday, and my friend in the library, Hazel Ashemore, called me and asked
me why I did not tell her I had been promoted. I asked what she was talking
about. I thought maybe promoted to head picture editor in the library, you
know? I said, no I had not been promoted. Luis had not said anything to me. She
said it was all over the newsroom that I was going to be a reporter. I nearly
dropped the phone. I asked for Luis' phone number because he was off on a
Monday also. Let me call him because I don't want him to hear this silly rumor
and think that I've been trying to get out of the library without first talking to him
because he had been so nice to me. So I called Luis at home and he told me it
was true. They called him up on Friday and said that they wanted to know about
my personality, and the kind of person I was, and they would be calling me in
tomorrow. Well, I could not believe it. It was like pinching myself. I told my mom
not to tell anyone because it may not be true. I will go and see what happens. So,
I went in the next morning and Larry Jenks, who was the managing editor, called
me over and said we would like to give you a chance. Juanita Greene and a
woman named Helen Coram, who is now dead, she would have been my age,
who was the associate editor of the Women's section at the time, that is what we
called it, the Women's section. She and Juanita Greene went to Larry and
showed him some of the stuff I had been writing for Miami-Dade. I would share
my writings with them because they were always so interested in what I was
doing. One day they came in and asked me for some copies, and I thought they
were just going to share them with some other reporters. They went to Larry
Jenks with it and did not tell me. They were two good friends, I tell you. They are
basically the ones who went to bat for me, and Larry Jenks looked at my articles
and told me they were going to try me on a trial basis for three months. I was so
excited I did not care. It could have been for a week. He asked me if I understood
that if this did not work out I would have to go back to the library. I said I
understood and that was fine. I got a ten dollar raise. I was so excited. Not about
the ten dollar raise, I did not even care. I would have done it for nothing.
Sometimes bad things happen, but good things can come from them. He talked
to me on a Tuesday. He said I would start two weeks from today. The day before
I was to start, a riot broke out in Liberty City. And I did not even know about it
because we did not have a television. At the time I did not want a television for
the children, you know, I did not want them to get glued to the TV. And I was not
there to supervise them. So, they did not have a TV. They had books and radio.
My brother was stationed at Homestead Air Force Base, but he was living with us
in Liberty City, and he had been sick. We had taken him down to the base that
night for an appointment. On the way back I was going to get off the expressway
at 27th Avenue and come home that way, but for some reason I did not. Had I
gone that way, I would have been smack in the middle of the riot. Instead I went
the longer way. I usually would get off at 22nd or 27th to keep from paying the toll.
I t was fifteen cents toll at the time. I decided to pay the little fifteen cents toll, and
get off at 12th Ave. It would be closer to the house. That is what we did, and
avoided the riot. Probably our car would have been stolen, somebody would
have been hurt because they were just throwing rocks at cars. We got my brother
comfortable, and I went to bed. The next morning I got up real early because it
was my first day on the job, and I got in the office at eight o'clock. Larry Jenks
was already there and he said there was some trouble in Liberty City and did I
know about it. I did not know about it. I said I lived in Liberty City! But I did not
know about it. It was west of where I lived. He asked if I would like to go and
cover it. I told him I lived in Liberty City and I know the people there. So that was
my first story that I wrote for the Herald, and it ran on the front page. It was about
Iceberg slim. This was a guy who was a pimp, who was saying that the riot was
hurting his business. Kind of funny. It was like a light side to a serious situation.
They ran it on the front page of the A section. I was just so thrilled.
I had a time trying to decide what name I was going to use. I wanted all my
classmates to know what I was doing. I just wanted everybody to know that, so I
used Beatrice Johnson Hines as the byline. Johnson was my maiden name.
That was my first byline. But that was so long. Then I shortened it to Beatrice J.
Hines. I didn't like that, it didn't look glamorous enough. Then I just said Beatrice
Hines-did not like that. Then I did B.L. Hines, but that sounded too masculine.
Then I did Bea and then just Hines, and then somebody was calling me Ms.
Behinds. So then I put the L., the middle initial. It was so funny. Larry Jenks
came up to me one day and said it has been interesting to see your stories
because I never know which byline you are going to use. So I stuck with Bea L.
Hines. You know, B-E-A and then the middle initial L., then Hines.
I have done a lot of things at the Herald. I have written a column, an issues
column. I have covered education, I worked in the "Living Section," which
became Living Today. I worked there for four-and-a-half years. I have just done
a lot of things. My biggest enjoyment was doing the issues column. I did that
Q: What kind of stuff did you write?
A: Well, I wrote about everything. Anything that bugged me or bugged you. You
know, people would call me with their special gripes and stuff, and if I agreed I
would write a column about it.
Q: What section did that run it?
A: It ran on the front page of the "Local Section." It was just called "Bea L. Hines."
Q: How long ago was that?
A: I stopped writing it in 1985. I wrote that for four-and-a-half years and I enjoyed it
and the year I stopped writing it, Savvy magazine, which so longer exists, it was
a women's magazine, named me as one of the top five woman columnists in the
country. I was so thrilled.
Q: That is such an honor!
A: Yes, it was an honor. And now I write periodically a column called, "Parenting
Again," it is about grandparents who are rearing their grandchildren for whatever
reason. Maybe their children are in jail, maybe they died, maybe they had AIDS.
One of the columns that I did was about a sixty-five year old grandmother who
was rearing eight of her grandchildren, the youngest one was eleven months
old. Eight or eleven months, I do not know why eleven months sticks in my
mind. The daughter was in jail for drugs.
Q: And the father was no where?
A: Of course the father was nowhere. I kind of like doing that column because it
sort of connects me with people. So now I cover religion, local religion, which
runs in Neighbors, and I write a column called, "Neighbors in Religion," and
Q: How long have you been working on Neighbors?
A: Since 1981 I believe, because I did Neighbors and the issues column at the
same time. The issues column ran on the Local front page and I also did a
"Friends and Neighbors" column in "Religion and Lifestyles" for Neighbors.
When I look back I do not know how I did all those things. My platter is not as
full now. But I am enjoying it just as much. I do a lot of public speaking. One of
my pet things is going to schools, talking to children [and] trying to encourage
Q: To elementary schools?
A: To all schools, even college. I have done several workshops at colleges. At
Savannah State, several times I've been invited to Savannah State; the
University of California at Berkeley, FAMU, and Memphis State College,
University I guess. When I tell my story of a maid to reporter, the kids really like
that. I always tell, especially sometimes I have friends or I meet people who tell
me they would like to do something but think they are too old. I tell them I was
thirty-two when I became a reporter, when I got my dream job. All my friends
had been working at their dream jobs for ten years at least, they were ten years
out of college. I was thirty-two with two children. A widow. I say if I can do it, you
can do it.
Q: So, when you go speak to students at schools and colleges, are they amazed
that you did not go to college, that you don't have a bachelor's degree?
A: They are amazed. I went to college three years, it is just that I do not have a
Q: Yeah, but that you got your job before you got your bachelor's?
A: Yeah, but I always encourage them to not look at that. Actually, I went to college
longer than three years, because I have gone back to get courses since then. It
is just that I have put it all together, and gotten a degree. What I tell them is that
for some reason I was there at the right time, they needed me, this thing does
not usually happen. I mean, it has happened to other people. I think Charlie
Whited was one who did not have a degree, he might have gone back later on.
There are some other people there who did not have a college degree in
journalism. [But] not anymore. The younger people that they hire must have a
four-year degree, at least a four-year degree.
Q: In journalism?
A: In journalism or some related topic like political science, or history, or English. I
just tell them that this happened to me and I am grateful that it did. I have not
planned not going back. It is just that when I got the job, my career just took off,
there was no time to go to school at the time. Then I had my children. [I] was
working these long hours because I was so excited about the job, and my
children were still young. There was no time to go back to school. My plan was
when they got out of school, and then I would go back, but there was always
something. They got out of school, they get married, I am babysitting. I am the
grandmother now. So there is always some reason for me not to go back. But
now there is a lull in my life. Maybe I can go back, you know, because I have
always wanted just to get that degree.
Q: Do you do the "Religion" section for any special reason, because you are active
in your church? Or is that just what you got?
A: I sort of fell into that when I was a new reporter, which is fine. Adon Taft knew
that I was active in my church. He was the Religion editor at the time, and so
whenever he was on vacation, or had to go out for whatever reason, he would
ask me to fill in for him. At that time, we had two pages to fill, and I was just so
excited, and I think what happened is that it let the editors see what I could to. I
was just so excited about being able to fill his shoes, those were big shoes to fill.
He had been the editor for a long time, and I was so excited, you know, to do
that. So I just sort of fell into this position which is fine. I like doing it. I like
learning about all religions. I have a good rapport with people of all faiths, and I
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: My favorite part is the fact that I meet people. I have met so many wonderful
people. I am not talking about celebrities, I am talking about just everyday Mary
and Joe's, you know? People who are unsung heroes, people who are doing
things in their community, behind the scenes, who you would never know about.
Sometimes I am able to put a little something in the paper and they are so
thrilled. They appreciate it so much, and if I can make somebody happy, make
somebody's day, that has made my day. That sounds corny, but that is it.
Q: Do you have any least favorite part of your job?
A: My least favorite part is that I don not like it when some editors really want to be
writers and change my stuff. You know, I have had editors who have changed
my stuff to the point where I have told them take my name off it, because it is
not me. I feel like I have a certain style that people recognize, and it is a warm
style, and I do not want my stuff to read cut and dried. I like color in my stuff.
Q: Yeah, like your article today about the reverend that got his doctoral degree,
how it was first person in the first few lines.
A: I know him, and I could write those things about him because I know him. So I
do not mind them [the editors] changing it if it is going to make it better, but if
you change it for the sake of change because you are the editor and you can do
this, I do not like that. That is the thing I do not like. And I have had editors who
said they think it would sound better if we say this, and we change this around,
or put this sentence up top. Hey, I am all for that. Because sometimes you are
so close to something you do not really see how much better it can be,
especially if you are working on deadline. If you have an editor who is sensitive
enough, and I have had plenty of them, and a few of the other kind. So if there is
anything I did not like about the job, that would be it. Otherwise, it has been a
Q: What direction do you see the print media taking as far as going into the
twenty-first century? Around the University of Florida, all we hear is about how
all these print journalism majors are going to have no jobs, not because there
are no jobs out there, but because there is nothing left to do because everything
is so computer-oriented, television-oriented, even radio-oriented.
A: I would like to believe with my heart, and I believe that we will be around. There
is a need for print journalism, I just love getting up in the morning and opening
my paper. I think millions of other people do also. I am sure it is fun to sit in front
of the screen and hit buttons and stuff like that, but there is nothing like reading
the full thing in the print, in the newspaper, with a cup of coffee, or a cup of tea,
or whatever. I think millions of people all over the world will want to do that for a
long time. We may see a change. The newspapers may be smaller, but I think
they will always be around. I would like to believe that, anyway.
Q: Do you still think today, in 1995, that people look at you different because you
are black, or because you are a woman? Because I know that you came
face-to-face with that.
A: Oh, did I! Even when I hit the newsroom I was sent out on wild-goose chases
and the whole nine yards. They would send me to assignments that did not
exist, [just] because they were men. First of all, they did not want women in the
newsroom. Here is a black woman who was a fresh reporter at thirty-two. They
did not know what to do with me. After the riot was over, they do not know what
to do with me. So, they would send me out. I would come in in the morning...I
think they thought because she is black she cannot go and interview a white
person. I proved them wrong. I have interviewed people of all nationalities with
ease. They seem to want to help me when they know I do not speak the
language, they are so eager to help me. I have never, ever had a problem
interviewing anybody of a different race. I have never had anybody tell me they
do not want to talk to me because I am black. Never, in all the years that I have
been writing. It says something for the community. I think at first people were so
awestruck when they saw me, I was a novelty, you know. They had never seen
a black reporter. So, the icebreaker was [when] they would ask me how I got
this job. I would sit the first thirty minutes telling them how I got the job. Then the
rest was so easy. I always got my story.
Q: What is your favorite story that you have ever done?
A: Oh, there has so many. I do not know. I mean, we are talking at least thousands
of stories over the years. And I have had some real touching stories that I
remember. I do not know if they would be my favorite, but touching situations.
Like one of the first stories that I did after the riot was about a little boy named
Scotty who was leaving home to die. He had some terrible brain disease that his
parents noticed. First, he lost his hearing. Then one morning he was bumping
into things and he was going blind. I can not remember the name of the disease,
but it was a rare disease that attacked the brain. He was five years old. It was
the first day of school and his little friends were scurrying around getting their
new socks and shoes on, and getting their little books ready for the first day of
school. The ambulance was pulling up to Scotty's door to take him away to die. I
did that story and I was crying. I was so embarrassed. The TV people were
there. It was a very touching story. I remember coming back to the office and I
was so embarrassed because I thought somebody else would tell them I was
such a crybaby. I am going to tell them myself. I remember Ben Burns was the
editor then. He was a big guy. Tall, not fat, but tall. Like six feet eleven inches.
He played basketball in college. He was such a nice guy. We called him, "Gentle
Ben." He said do not be ashamed of having feelings and showing it. That is what
makes you the writer that you are. So, that is a story that sticks out in my mind
as one of the most touching stories. It was really touching. I remember that well.
But there were happier pieces that I have done. Oh, I remember once I did a
story. This little old lady fell in the lake behind her apartment. This older man,
both of them were old, jumped in to save her. It was the cutest story. I said
something about how the day looked. The sky was blue, and it was a beautiful
day. But it is also the day that she could have died. He saved her from a tragic
death. But when the story ran, somebody called me the next day and told me
that do you want to know why she almost died? She was beating the ducks
with a stick. It cracked me up! I told my editor, here was this beautiful story. I
thought she was feeding the ducks, in fact, that was what she told me.
Somebody told me she was actually beating the ducks. She does not like the
ducks. She was beating them away in front of the lake. That cracked me up. Of
course, we did not do a follow-up, though. It was funny. That was a funny one
that we did. But, I have done lots of things. Like right now not too much comes
Q: Have you ever thought about doing something else besides working for the
Herald? Not for the Herald, but writing, as far as being a journalist?
A: Well, I have done some freelance stuff. I did a couple of articles for some
magazines. I have wanted to write a book for years. I have started it. I have
written a children's book that has not been published, yet. I have got to find it
because somebody told me they wanted to see it. So, I have got to dig in my
papers to see if I can find it. I do not think I have ever wanted to do anything
else but write.
Q: Who were you inspired by?
A: Well, actually to go back, I was inspired to write by my high school journalism
teacher, Miriam Shannon. She is still alive. She is so proud of me. But, after I
got the job, this is what I have wanted to do. Oh, I have had my periods when I
thought I would leave town! To some where else and get another job. But if I am
leaving, I cannot seem to get out of here!
Q: Yeah, Miami seems to have that hold on people.
A: Yeah, well, my roots are here. My family is here. My mom, my children, my
grandchildren, and for a while, my grandmother. She died two years ago. I have
too much to lose. I would have to give up too much.
Q: What role do you feel religion has played not only in your career, but in your
A: It is the influence in my life. I try to treat people the way I want them to treat me.
I am not perfect, you know? I make mistakes. But I really believe that if you try
real hard to live the Ten Commandments, God will help you. I pray daily. When
you came, I was just getting ready to read the Scripture. I think everyone needs
religion. I prayed about the job. I believe that the Lord blessed me with this job. I
believe it is God who has kept me on the job. I will tell you something. It has not
always been peaches and cream. When I thought I could not take it anymore,
for some reason I would get strength and then it would pass over. You know,
whatever the trial I was going through at the time.
Q: And your kids have passed this on to their children, also?
A: I hope so. You know, you can only live your life and hope that your children; I
never tried to push my belief off on them. I just tried to live it. My son now is
going to law school. He is having a tough tine financially. We are not rich people.
I do what I can to help him. I always tell him that God is able and if you just try
hard and pray, God will help you. We have seen those things happen. We have
seen them happen.
[Conversation went on about religion and getting strength from God.]
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom, so to speak, for aspiring journalists or
people that are trying to get into journalism?
A: I would tell them not to give up. Remember me. I did not have a degree, and I
got a job. Again, we go back to the faith thing. You do what is right and then you
put your trust in God ... and just go by faith. Never give up. I do not care how
many doors slam in your face. I cannot tell you the number of doors that were
closed in my face. But I never gave up. I just had that hope in my heart that
somebody is going to give me a job. I am not going to be a maid all my life.
Somebody is going to give me a job were I can have some benefits, so that I
can have some time to take my children to where ever, to the beach. A simple
trip to the beach meant a lot to me then. I could not do it. I did not have any time
for my children. After I got my job as a reporter, I did not have as much time with
my children. After I got my job as a reporter, I didn't have as much time with my
children on a daily basis, but we always had the dinner hour. Were we always
sat around the table and talked about what happened during the day. Sunday
were always ours. I always gave them Sundays. We went to church together.
Sometimes when I did not have a car we would take the bus ride just to the end
of the line, and we would get off at Biscayne and Bayfront Park. Bayside was
not there at the time, but it was still pretty. You can always find someone
strolling though the park, and there were vendors. They loved that. We would
stop and have hot dogs and watch people singing and dancing in the park. Then
we would get on the bus and go home and be in time for evening service at
Q: Do you think those are the kinds of things that make life worthwhile?
A: Yes. We never had a lot of money. I do not have a lot of money, now. We never
had a lot of money. But, we had each other, and I was there for my children. I
am still there for them. I am very close to my grandchildren. I have got one who
is going to be twelve at the end of this month. And another one who was eleven
on the seventh. That is my younger son's daughter. We are just very close. I
make them all of their Easter dresses. I made their Christmas dresses.
[Hines tells a story of making dresses for all of her granddaughters and their friends.]
Q: Anything that you want to share that I have not covered?
A: Oh, I think you have covered it all. I will probably think of a thousand things that I
should have said when you leave. I would like to encourage anybody who will
ever hear this to never give up hope. If you have a dream, and I tell the children
this when I go to the schools to talk; when I first told somebody that I wanted to
be a journalist they laughed at me. I mean, ha, ha, ha, right in my face. I was
embarrassed. Not for myself. I was embarrassed because they did not know
about my dream; they did not have faith in my dream.
Q: Was that just part of the era?
A: Yes, it was part of the era. They were laughing at me because there were no
jobs for black people in journalism. And very few in other places. I had taken my
son Shawn to kindergarten when he was five years old. I had just started back
to school at Mimi-Dade, and his teacher asked me what I was studying. I told
her I was studying journalism. She was a friend. She just laughed. She said,
"Girl, where do you think you're going to get a job in journalism when you're
black?" I said that I would like to think that one day the Herald will open its doors
to black journalists and I wanted to work there. She did not say anything. She
looked at me so strange, like what a fool.
Q: Did you ever think about working for The Miami Times?
A: To be truthful, I did. When I was working in the library, Fred Shaw gave me a
book to review. It was Leon Sullivan's, Build, Brother, Build. And this was in
1968. When it ran in The Miami Herald in the Book section, I was so proud of it
that I took a copy of it and sent it to The Miami Times and told them that I would
be happy to rewrite this article for their paper if they wanted to use it. Leon
Sullivan was a black man. He is a big shot in Philadelphia. Started the OIC
programs. I never heard from them. But when I started writing, after I had been
writing for The Herald for two years, Garth Reeves did invite me to join them.
But I was so excited about working for The Miami Herald, he was two years too
[We then continued to talk about The Miami Times, the purpose it serves in the black
community, and my sister, who goes to an all black school. It was very light-hearted.
She wanted to know my opinions and personal experiences in dealing with
discrimination, the black community, and prejudice. We also talked about bussing,
magnet schools, and the like. We shared stories about religion and how it ties into both
of our lives.]
A: Oh, speaking of magazines, I am also going to be working with a young woman
who is starting her own magazine. Her name is Donna Gehrke. She is starting a
magazine called, Rising Women in South Florida. The look of print journalism
may change. For instance, already The Miami Herald is changing. If you notice
we don't have the big "Food Section," anymore. We have a front section, and
then the back of it is "Living." We used to have two, the "Food Section." and
"Living." So, the look of the paper will change, bit I think we will always have
[We continued our talk about how much we like reading the paper, and the impact that
it make on the lives of Americans living abroad.]
Q: So, you're happy?
A: I am happy. I always say I could be happier. But I am not unhappy. I am
thankful. I always wanted to get married again, and have a lifelong companion.
But sometimes that is not in the cards for everybody. So you have to make your
own happiness. I am into all kinds of projects. I sew, as I told you, and I write,
and I sing with different groups. There are so many things to keep you happy.
You just make your own happiness. You can either be a hermit. I can just sort of
go in a closet and just die away, you know, wait for death. Whatever. Or I can
live, and enjoy this wonderful life that God has given me. So, I'm going to live.
There is a lot to enjoy. Companionship isn not the only thing in the world. Who is
to say that I would find a guy and he would be perfect for me? You know, it is a
chance you take. So, I am just happy as I am. If it happens, it happens. If it does
not happen, it does not happen. You got to [have a positive attitude]. A beautiful
day like this, I am not going to sit up and be worried about what I do not have. I
have so much. White clouds, the green trees, that is important to me. Thank you
Q: Thank you very much.
[Closed with some small talk and a hug. Bea L. Hines is truly one of the most friendly,
easy-going people I have ever had the pleasure of talking to. Thank you.]