Editor’s Note: Black History Month runs from Monday, Feb. 1, through Monday, Feb. 29, this year, and HISD is celebrating with a series of weekly stories recognizing distinguished African Americans who graduated from HISD high schools. This article focuses on alumni who went on to have successful careers in radio, television, and film. Previous articles highlight athletes, artists, and politicians.
HISD has produced a number of notable African-American graduates who have established successful careers in radio, television, and film. Before making their names in the industry, though, they got their start in district communications programs.
Television producer and Yates High School graduate Kim Gagné (1982) is a two-time Daytime Emmy award winner who won for her work as a supervising producer for the Steve Harvey show. She also won a regional Emmy for her time with Houston’s KHOU-TV. Gagné got her start as a student in the Yates School of Communications. In her “I Am HISD” profile, she discusses the skills she learned while at Yates.
“While I was in the Yates magnet program, I realized that what I wanted to do with my life was possible,” said Gagné. “I thought, ‘This is not crazy. I can achieve this.’ The magnet school was in its infancy, and the teachers were so dedicated. We learned about TV, radio, film, and photography. It was pretty amazing. I had the best experience and made lifelong friends.”
Roland Martin, who also graduated from Yates (1987), is best known as a nationally syndicated columnist, a TV One cable-network commentator, and host of “News One Now,” a one-hour weekday news show. He is also a former CNN analyst and was named by Ebony magazine as one of the 150 most influential African Americans in the U.S. in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
During a visit with Yates students, Martin remembers that it all began in high school. “The foundation of what I do, everything related to communications, actually began at HISD and Yates,” he said. “That has been my passion since I was 14 years old, and I certainly want the school to continue with its strong and vibrant communications program.”
Other distinguished African Americans in radio, television, and film who graduated from HISD schools include Ralph Cooper (Worthing HS, 1966, radio), Rosalind Jordan (Jones HS, 1984, journalist), and Sherri Williams (Lamar HS, 1990, journalist).
Join the conversation! Do you know other distinguished alumni who graduated from HISD schools? If so, tell us about them on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #HISDBlackHistory.