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Food: fruits and vegetables especially greens
Quote: Help me to do unto others as I would have then do unto me.
Season: fall
Birthplace
Anderson County, Texas
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 10/1/2016

Nonprofit executive and television personality Billye Suber Aaron was born on October 16, 1936 in Anderson County, Texas to Nathan Suber and Annie Mae Smith Suber. She attended Clemons School in Neches, Texas for eleven years before entering Lincoln High School in Dallas, Texas. In 1958, she graduated from Texas College in Tyler with her B.A. degree in English. Upon receiving a fellowship to study reading and English, she began a graduate program at Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. Receiving her M.A. degree in 1960, she continued her post-graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

In 1959, Aaron married Dr. Samuel W. Williams, philosophy professor at Morehouse College, pastor of Friendship Baptist Church and Atlanta civil rights leader. She taught English in the Atlanta public school system, at Spelman College, Morehouse College, South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Georgia. In 1968, she was hired as a co-host for WSB-TV’s ‘Today in Georgia,’ becoming the first African American woman in the southeast to co-host a daily, hour-long talk show. She interviewed several notable local and international personalities on the show, including Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Bahamian Prime Minister Linden O. Pindling, and entertainers Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, and Pearl Bailey. While interviewing Atlanta Braves’ players, she met future husband Hank Aaron. They were married in 1973.

Aaron began hosting her weekly talk show, ‘Billye,’ for WTMJ-TV when Hank Aaron left Atlanta to join the Milwaukee Brewers. In 1980, she joined the staff of the United Negro College Fund as a development director for the Atlanta branch. Throughout her fourteen-year tenure with the organization, she co-hosted the annual telethon, ‘Lou Rawls Parade of Stars,” co-founded the Mayor’s MASKED Ball, one of UCF’s most lucrative fundraisers, and became the second woman in the organization to serve as vice president of the southern region. After retiring in 1994, she and her husband created the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, which offered grants to children between the ages of nine and twelve. The foundation’s initiatives also include the ‘44 Forever’ program, which provides grants annually to forty-four high school junior and seniors across the U.S. who are members of Boys and Girls Clubs; and several endowed scholarships at historically black colleges.

A longtime member of the NAACP, Aaron chaired its premiere fundraiser, the annual Freedom Fund Dinner, for five years. She is a director emeritus of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and has been honored with numerous awards for her service over the years, including the 2003 Martin Luther King, Jr. “Salute to Greatness” and the YWCA Woman of Achievement award.

Aaron and her husband reside in Atlanta and West Palm Beach, Florida. Their children include Ceci Haydel, Aaron’s daughter from her first marriage, and Gaile, Hank, Jr., Lary and Dorinda, from Hank Aaron’s first marriage. They also have two grandchildren, Emily Jewel and Victor Aaron Haydel.

Billye Aaron was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 1, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: