WEST PALM BEACH — Next time you look at an MSNBC news program, keep this in mind: The power behind the show is a Riviera Beach native whose hard work has enabled her to reach the top of her profession.
Yvette Miley is the vice president and executive editor of the cable channel and since 2009 she has supervised the editorial content of its daytime programming.
And the Urban League of Palm Beach County has let Miley know her hometown is proud of her.
The league honored Miley with its Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented to her by MSNBC president Phil Griffin.
The league also presented Youth Achievement Awards to Daisy Coates, a student at Wellington Landings Middle School, and Tyler Wright, a student at Palm Beach Gardens High School.
Griffin said from his first meeting with Miley, which was supposed to be an hour long but turned into three hours, he knew she was someone special.
“I knew that the job we had for her wasn’t big enough but I asked her to take it and she took it,” Griffin said. “Within six months, Yvette became the boss of our daytime programming.”
Miley’s leadership has helped writers and producers do their jobs better and she has positively impacted the network, Griffin added.
“She helped change MSNBC,” he said. “The sensibility that we have, the leadership I think we have today on television and cable news to put a light on stories that aren’t getting a light put on them around the country are largely because of Yvette Miley.”
Miley, who previously served as news director at WVTM in Birmingham and vice president of news at WTVJ in Miami, told the gathering at the league’s 40th Annual Equal Opportunity Day Awards Luncheon that she struggled on her way to the top of her profession, including losing a scholarship at the University of Florida.
She said she was told she’d never graduate or have a career in journalism and she used that “hard truth” to motivate her to work harder and do better.
With the support of family and friends, she said, she persevered and encouraged the youth in the audience not to let anyone deter them from their goals or dreams.
Miley previously told The Grio.com that her inspiration has come from her mother, Edna Whitaker. “She really is a remarkable woman. She endured the toughest of times so that I might have an opportunity to attend college. She is my true champion,” Miley told the online news service.
Benjamin Jealous, who recently resigned as president/CEO of the NAACP, delivered the keynote address at the May 15 event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in downtown West Palm Beach.
He took urged young people to aim higher.
Jealous cautioned that while many strides have been made in obtaining civil and human rights, much has been lost in the transition.
“We got what we fought for but we lost what we had,” Jealous said. “We got the right to send our children to any school in town. But we lost the right to assume that they would be loved and welcomed at whatever school they went.”
Jealous said the core values that were already in place and nurtured by elders in the community seemed to have gotten lost as minorities gained more rights. “History still has the possibility of moving two ways at once and we had a choice on which way it would go,” he said. “We are the most [learned] generation in the country and the most incarcerated on the planet,” he said.
He expressed concern about young people being killed or incarcerated before reaching the age of 21.
According to Jealous, people put too many of their heroes on pedestals, not realizing that it makes their accomplishments seem unobtainable to today’s youth.
Civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall all did good works but were motivated by the circumstances of the day and the youth of today can do the same, Jealous said.