Cathy Hughes, 68, is the founder and chairperson of Radio One, the largest African-American–owned and operated broadcast company in America. The Washington, DC, company has 55 stations in 16 U.S. markets. But earlier in her life, Cathy knew what it was like to feel hungry.
"My three siblings and I grew up in Omaha's projects; our father was in college and our mother was a housewife, so we didn't have much money. We weren't literally starving, but we never had enough to feel satisfied. I remember coming home from my job at 9 p.m. one night when I was 14 (I lied about my age to get hired). The dinner my mom had set aside for me had been eaten by my brothers. They'd left the napkin puffed up on top of the plate to cover their tracks.
I became pregnant at 16, and moved in with my soon-to-be husband's family. My son, Alfred, was born in 1965, and my husband and I split up soon after. I put myself through college in Nebraska, and eventually took a job as a sales manager at Howard University's radio station. In 1979, my second husband and I bought our own station and turned it into Washington, DC's first black perspective talk radio station.
But three years later, we split up and I lost the house. Money was tight, and I worked constantly to keep the business alive. For 18 months, I slept on the radio station floor and cooked soup on a hot plate.
Now that I'm financially comfortable, I keep my pantry so stocked, you'd think I had 10 grandkids, not just one. I donate extras to homeless shelters and to seniors who often have to choose between food and medicine. No one should have to make that choice.
At Radio One, we've fed thousands of people through donation drives and Thanksgiving turkey giveaways. It's an incredible feeling to know that my child—and his child—have always had enough to eat. The cycle of hunger has been broken."
September is Hunger Action Month! If you want to take action, volunteer at your local Feeding America food bank, host a donation drive, or make a donation at . Feeding America helps some 46.5 million people a year, including 12 million kids and 7 millions seniors.
Hair by Gerald Armstrong. Makeup by Mercedes Warren-Geter.