The First’s: Jayne Kennedy Became 1st Black Woman To Anchor A Network Sports Program

By Posted on 75 2 m read

This #BlackHistoryMonth, Live Civil will be highlighting African-Americans who were the very FIRST to infiltrate an area where African-Americans were once banned from.

These brave individuals stepped into their light and outside of their comfort zone, and disrupted the current and unfair societal norms that they were up against. With all odds against them they persevered and succeeded in a way that no one has ever before, and for that, they deserve to be celebrated.

For our first edition, we will celebrate the hard work from Jayne Kennedy, who became the first black woman to anchor a network sports program. Jayne Kennedy was a dancer, actress, and spokesperson who was told she should stay in her lane by “experts” in the entertainment industry. Jayne knew that she was much more than a pretty face, and thus went on to pursue other opportunities to showcase her true talent and skills as a communicator.

In 1978 Jayne landed her first broadcasting job as a co-anchor at CBS’ NFL Today and held that position for two years. Her signing made her the first African-American woman ever to anchor a network sports program. In the same time frame, Jayne also hosted the syndicated “Greatest Sports Legends” program.

During this time in television history, attractive women were hired merely for ratings and to increase the number of male viewers. The numbers for CBS skyrocketed during Kennedy’s time there, as expected, and it wasn’t for her physical features. Rather Kennedy displayed her knowledge and command of NFL statistics and team rosters while keeping her engaging playful flare that made the show a success when it came to interviewing athletes.

“I like it when someone says you are intelligent or pretty, but universal is a quality most people in Hollywood don’t want to see in blacks. That’s an appreciation of my talent. I did an episode of ‘Police Woman’ last year and I played an inmate, wore no make-up and had my hair pulled in a ponytail. And the producer said ‘I like you because you want to work, you want to be good.’ And that’s the nicest thing anyone could say.” –  Jayne Harrison Kennedy-Overton via The Washington Post.

We celebrate Jayne Kennedy for following her dreams and breaking ceilings for the rest of us in the process, the Civil way! Happy #BlackHistoryMonth, and be on the lookout for more “The First’s” pieces this month!

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