What You Didn't Know About Hank Aaron's Wife

Alice Allison Dunnigan made history as "the first African American female correspondent at the White House and the first black female member of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries," according to Black Past. Jayne Kennedy was a pioneer of female sports anchors, and Carole Simpson was "first Black woman to anchor a major network newscast," per Essence. To that list we add Billye Aaron, "the first African American woman in the southeast to co-host a daily regularly scheduled talk show," according to Atlanta's Black History Makers.

Born Billye Jewel Suber, the wife of the late baseball legend Hank Aaron grew up in Texas, and by the time she got to high school, the woman we would eventually get to know as Billye Aaron was enamored with the idea of going into television. She eventually made her debut — and made history — in July of 1968, by becoming an anchor for WSB-TV's Today in Georgia. The gig gave her the opportunity to score interviews with some of the leading personalities of the era, from Vice President Hubert Humphrey, to stars Sidney Portier, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, and Pearl Bailey. She even got to interview sports heroes Willie Mays, Ernie Banks and yes, her future husband, Hank Aaron. 

Hank Aaron was not Billye Aaron's first husband

While Billye Aaron was going for her post-graduate degree, she met and then married Morehouse College philosophy professor Dr Samuel W Williams who was also known as a civil rights leader, pastor, and president of the local chapter of the NAACP. Aside from her broadcasting career, Billye was a revered educator, community organizer, and philanthropist. She was left a widow in 1970 when Williams died, after which she married Hank Aaron in 1973 (via Atlanta's Black History Makers).

The couple moved to Milwaukee where Billye continued working in journalism, and when they returned to Atlanta, she took up a post at the United Negro College Fund and soon became one their most important fund raisers, serving as the organization's "vice president of the Southern region." The work she did to further higher education among African American students put Billye in the education spotlight, and she has won numerous awards, including the Atlanta Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith Abe Goldstein Human Relations Award; the Atlanta Urban League's 1998 Distinguished Community Service Award; and the SCLC 7th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Drum Major for Justice Award. In 2003, Billye and Hank were presented with the 2003 Martin Luther King Jr. "Salute to Greatness" Award.