Merri Dee, longtime television and radio personality, will be honored on Wednesday, March 1, at the Metropolitan Club as she celebrates 50 years of broadcasting. Kicking off Women's History Month, the event, titled "Celebrating the Life Lessons & Professional Accomplishments of Broadcast Legend Merri Dee", will support a soon-to-be-announced Merri Dee Healing Center. The Center will be located at the YWCA in Logan Square and will help women impacted by violence.
Merri Dee's life would make an inspiring Hollywood movie and, indeed, she has authored several books about her life that is nothing short of remarkable. One of the first African-American women to anchor the news in Chicago, she turned her celebrity status into a beacon for charity work.
In 1992, after suffering a childhood of abuse, Dee helped draft the country's first ever Victims' Bill of Rights that was passed by Illinois state legislature and served as a model for other states to pass their own victim's rights legislation. She founded the Chicago-based program Athletes for a Better Education and served as the television host of the United Negro College Fund's "Evening of Stars" fundraiser for over two decades. She also hosted telethons benefitting Easter Seals as well as advocating for many other charities.
Dee has raised millions for children's charities after struggling for years as a single mother. During her long broadcast career, Dee also developed "The Waiting Child", an on-air segment for WGN-TV spotlighting children in the child placement system in need of adoptive homes. This initiative earned Dee several awards, including being honored with the Adoption Excellence Award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2004.
In 1971, after hosting a segment of her Merri Dee Show on then station WSNS (channel 44), she was kidnapped and shot in the head. She was given last rites twice by her friend Reverend Jesse Jackson. Her positive spirit, that she's held onto throughout her life, helped her to, not only survive, but to thrive .
In 2000, she was honored with an honorary Doctorate of Humanities by Lewis University; the following year, Dee won the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Silver Circle Award. The University of Illinois' Center on Women and Gender also honored Dee with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003; and in 2004, she was honored with a President's Award by the United Negro College Fund. Dee has also served as an executive board member for the Ronald McDonald House Charities, Junior Achievement Worldwide and the Associated Colleges of Illinois. In January 2011, she became one of six inductees into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame. Whew!
Sooooo, in honor of Merri's 50 years of service as a public figure and the huge impact she's had on her adoring public, tickets to this event, are only $50 each! (Click here). Hope to see you there!
(The evening will be co-sponsored by Fifth Third Bank and the Metropolitan Club of Chicago).
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