By MALIKA A. WRIGHT
Special to the South Florida Times
Miami – There was no such thing as a black female reporter in the 1960s and Bea Hines hadn’t aspired to be one because that opportunity didn’t exist.
But Hines had boldly taken her mentor’s advice when he said, “You need to change your major to journalism. You can write.”
Although friends had laughed at her when she told them and she even kept the fact that she was studying journalism a secret from her mother – Hines took night classes in journalism at Miami-Dade Community College.
A few years later, in 1970, she became the first black female reporter at the Miami Herald.
For the past 46 years, the pioneer has overcome many obstacles and greatly impacted the community through her writing. Hines, 78, said it was her faith in God and good advice from mentors that helped her endure and succeed in media.
She will be honored today (November 17) at the Women of Distinction and Caring luncheon, hosted by the Plaza Health Foundation at Jungle Island.
“One thing I find [about the youth], even with my own grandchildren … they find it hard to take any advice anymore.” Hines said. But I did. I overcame a lot of pitfalls because I took the advice of older people who had mentored me.”
As a young woman, Hines dealt with racism and discrimination as a domestic worker on
Miami Beach. She worked for two families where she cleaned and took care of the children.
After one of the families Hines worked for left for a month-long vacation without leaving her a penny, Hines said she took her mother’s advice and applied to be a file clerk at the Herald, which eventually led to her being a pioneer reporter. “My mother was always on my back saying ‘you’re smart, you can do more than this.’ So I did,” Hines said.
She said her pastor’s advice stopped her from opening a clothing store, which would have hindered her from becoming a pioneer in media.
“You have to be open to listen to good advice,” Hines said she often tells young people. “Somebody’s gonna give you some good advice and we have to be open to it, and I believe that’s what helped me overcome a lot of obstacles.”
Hines overcame an abusive marriage, raising two sons as a young widow and struggles in the newsroom. Through it all, she persevered and exceled as a reporter.
Her very first story on the 1970 Liberty City riots was published on the front page of the national section in the paper. “When I thought I couldn’t make it anymore, one of those old ladies at my church would tell me: ‘I’m praying for you baby you just hang in there, and I listened to that,’” Hines said.
“When they told me they were praying for me that gave me more courage. That’s what brought me through it: prayer. Prayer and perseverance. I just never gave up on the Lord and He never gave up on me,” Hines said.
Today. Hines is still a columnist for the Miami Herald. She has been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, received national recognition for her work and been named one of the top five columnists in the nation by Savvy Magazine. She is also a gifted gospel singer and has traveled internationally to perform with her group.
Despite all of her accomplishments, she still deems it a privilege to be recognized for her work.
“It is very humbling. When you do things for other people to show your concern and care, you do it from your heart, but you don’t expect to be rewarded for it,” Hines said. “So when I was told that I was one of the honorees, and I’m in the company of some other fine women, I was truly honored.”