WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Maureen Bunyan is a trailblazer for women, African Americans, and journalists not only in Washington, but across the country. She will be honored Thursday night by her induction into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.
A 44-year veteran of television news, Bunyan is one of the most respected and admired broadcasting journalists in the country.
“I still remember the young woman, small woman, working with Max Robinson,” says WJLA’s Sam Ford.
Ford has been Bunyan's friend and colleague since the mid-seventies. He and Bunyan were founders of the National Association of Black Journalists.
“She’s a presence here that a lot of people look up to. Certainly I do, I’m one of her fans,” Ford says.
Maureen, who was born in Aruba, emigrated to the Milwaukee area with her family when she was 11 years old. Her parents were determined that she and her two sisters would get the benefit of a higher education, which she began at a small college in northwestern Wisconsin.
“She was the first black student there and she said it was rough finding somebody to be her roommate,” Ford says.
Bunyan began her broadcasting career at WGBH in Boston in 1970, reported at WCBS-TV in New York, and in 1973 came to Washington to anchor at Channel 9 for 22 years before joining WJLA in 1999.
“I was just always impressed with how poised she was, how well-spoken she was,” says GMW anchor Jummy Olabanji.
Bunyan has co-anchored with Max Robinson, Pat McGrath, Warner Wolf, Kathleen Matthews, and Gordon Peterson.
“You get together for a half hour five nights a week, have a great time and go home. It's a terrific marriage. It doesn't cost you a nickel. In fact, they pay you to do it,” says Peterson.
Bunyan reported from around the world, meeting and interviewing historical figures like first ladies Barbara Bush and Rosalynn Carter, civil right pioneer Rosa Parks, and many others. She earned a master’s degree in education from Harvard and became a mentor to rising broadcasting journalists like Olabanji.
“It definitely gave me somebody to look up to,” Olabanji says. “It’s awesome that I’m with her here. I can’t even believe it almost, if that makes sense.
Through it all, Bunyan has been a tireless volunteer, helping others throughout the D.C. region.
“She’s a great model for young people in the District of Columbia,” Peterson says.
She has been an advocate for women and minorities, a leader, journalist, mentor, and friend.
“I’ve always thought she was a class act, and I still do,” Ford says.