For decades, Harlem Community Newspapers publisher Pat Stevenson has told the stories of New Yorkers and provided a voice for communities that were often overlooked.
- As we celebrate Women's History Month, we're honoring women who make a difference in their communities every day. Today, Eyewitness News anchor Shirleen Allicot introduces us to a woman who, for decades, has told the stories of New Yorkers and provided a voice for communities often overlooked.
PAT STEVENSON: This business was a male-dominated business when I started 25 years ago. I remember I was the only woman going to the printer.
SHIRLEEN ALLICOT: Imagine starting your own newspaper at a time when women in the newsroom were few and far between. Pat Stevenson did just that.
PAT STEVENSON: And I had two grandmothers that instilled in me that basically, I can do anything I want to do.
SHIRLEEN ALLICOT: Born in Georgia, Stevenson got an early lesson on the horrors of Jim Crow. Her family would later move to New York City, where she graduated from Andrew Jackson High School and attended Long Island University.
PAT STEVENSON: I did not know what I wanted to do. I had a couple of jobs in offices. Because I used to read the newspapers every day, one day I just decided, you know, I want to work for a TV station.
SHIRLEEN ALLICOT: She got a job as an assistant at NBC, then later moved to California, where stints in radio led her to advertising and marketing and eventually back to New York City. After years of success, a fateful flight to Africa would change her life.
PAT STEVENSON: It was a storm, and we were falling. And people were screaming, and people were-- it was bad. And I came back and found out I had a fear of flying. So that changed my career.
SHIRLEEN ALLICOT: After that terrifying flight, she decided to start her own business, and Harlem Community Newspapers was born.
PAT STEVENSON: I chose at that time to start in Harlem because that's when Harlem became an empowerment zone. That was 25 years ago.
SHIRLEEN ALLICOT: At that time, there were about 300 community newspapers in New York, but not one in Harlem. HCN filled the void then and now, serving not just Harlem but also the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. And despite the pandemic, Pat Stevenson remains excited about Harlem's future.
PAT STEVENSON: Just being in Harlem and experiencing all of the changes here and all the improvements in the community has been exciting to me.