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A Tribute To Monica Kaufman Pearson

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Johnson) for 5 minutes.

Rep. Hank Johnson

legislator photo

Madam Speaker, today I rise in tribute to retiring WSB-TV anchor Monica Kaufman Pearson, who brought Atlanta the evening news for almost four decades.

Before I go into that, something is compelling me to extol the virtues of a glass of cold iced tea in the middle of the day. After a hard morning at work outside and you come in for your meal, for your lunch, and you enjoy that lunch with a glass of iced tea, it's a Southern tradition, and I want to use that in talking about Monica Pearson.

Monica is the recipient of numerous awards, including more than 35 Emmys. She broke the color barrier and the gender barrier by becoming the first black female to serve as evening news anchor in the Atlanta broadcast market. She is known for her commitment to excellence, her commitment to professionalism, and also for her optimism and her compassion.

She is also known for sharing her talents by mentoring aspiring female news anchors across the Nation. It was Marian Pittman, news director of WSB-TV who worked with Monica for more than 15 years, who said, ``Monica is to WSB what sweet tea is to Atlanta.''

Yes, she was a quenching force when she arrived in Atlanta. It was at a time where Atlanta had recently elected a blunt-spoken man of action, Mayor Jackson, as the mayor of Atlanta. It was a time of transformation. At those kinds of periods you have a lot of turmoil going on among people--one group losing control, the other group taking control. They were difficult moments during that time politically, and people were polarized and divided. Then Monica arrived on the scene, a young, beautiful, personable, non-threatening, cheerful person. WSB-TV did something that was revolutionary: they made her the first African American and the first female to have that evening news slot. And boy, I'll tell you, you're talking about a glass of iced tea in a hot time, that's what she was.

Monica was so enthusiastic--she still is--upbeat, and she just lit up the TV screens. I personally just couldn't keep my eyes off of her. She was so cheerful. Her laugh and her smile are still infectious. She continues to light up Atlanta. She created and hosted one of the most remarkable interview programs in the Nation--``Monica Pearson Closeups.'' She interviewed world leaders, elected officials, and celebrities. Many of the people that she interviewed were just astonished at the depth of her preparation for the interviews.

While we are all wishing her Godspeed in her well-deserved retirement, we can take heart that she will continue to be a fixture on the Atlanta scene, always ready with a smile and an insightful word.

Monica Pearson is and will remain an Atlanta treasure and a glass of good, cold iced tea.