Dates tells her background of growing up in Baltimore, Maryland. She grew up in the projects and went to school that was for colored children.
Writing was always a passion for Dates throughout her school years. She was the editor and chief for her school newspaper and yearbook.
Dates attended Coppin State University and received her degree. She taught for 5 years and then went to John Hopkins University for a master's.
While at Hopkins, she was offered to work with an assistant superintendent on a pilot project on 3 television channels in Baltimore. For 11 years she says she was the "television teacher."
She went to Morgan State University where they wanted her to help build the communications program there. Her and two others helped craft the journalism program.
Dr. Thomas Cripps was an expert in African Americans' participation in television and film. He pushed Dates to continue her education and get a PhD.
Dates began researching areas of support for her education. She wrote to 35 places and received a scholarship from the Ford Foundation.
In her two years of coursework, she wrote about the effects of television on children. She says she finished in 2 years and 8 months.
Dates says she was on a "mission" to complete her degree because she had four children. She would wake up at 3 in the morning to study and get her kids ready at 6, then take them to school and continue her work.
She says a mentor in her life was her mother because she pushed her kids to go to school. Date's mother went to Coppin State University and had a passion for teaching.
Dates has two sisters from her mother and then one from her father's second marriage.
Two of her sisters received their PhDs and her youngest sister earned her master's in nursing.
Her kids also continued their higher education. Her daughter is an educator, her eldest son is a headhunter to veterans, another son works at a law firm in Miami, and the last is a doctor of emergency in medicine. Dates has four grandchildren.
Dates is involved with the Girl Scouts. She says she was a Girl Scout for about 6-8 years. She was also the leader for her daughter's troop.
She says she was always conscious of the need for diversity in academia. Dates says her dissertation involved shaping that conversation.
She did a show called North Star on WBAL in the 70's. Her pieces were on people doing "constructive things" in the community.
Dates says there were two sororities who were very focused on helping the community. This caused her to join Delta Sigma Theta, because she felt she could magnify her effectiveness with like-minded people.
She discusses how she was able to mold her research towards diverse issues. While teaching, she taught the history of black contribution to the media industry.
Bessie Smith was an example she used in her class to demonstrate contributions of African Americans. Nat King Cole is another example she provides.
Dates collected articles from Ebony and other media that featured African Americans. She would make copies to share with her students. She teamed up with other colleagues who were doing the same.
She was asked to serve as the editor of the publication. Her role was to contact the people who had written the articles and chapters, and ask if they would allow her to use their materials. They all told her no.
Her group decided to do it themselves and write a chapter each, but deadlines weren't met. She ended up writing 6 out of 10 chapters for "Split Image: African Americans in the Mass Media."
One of the chapter she did had to do with public television and diversity. She said there needed to be people of color on the board for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Ironically, she wound up in that role.
She co-authored a book, "The Obamas and Mass Media: Race, Gender, Religion and Politics." It focuses on the media's treatment of African Americans throughout history.
Dates says a proud moment while serving as dean was when faculty agreed to reorganize the curriculum.
What made the reorganization work was having organizations in a panel to provide reports. The focus was trying to asses where they were and where they wanted to be. She gave the two reports to the faculty who then voted.
She was also proud that was she was able to lead the school in accredited programs. During the time she was dean they had three accreditation site visits. She says there was one time where there was a challenge.
Dates says she was very gratified as president of BEA (Broadcast Education Association) and AEJMC. She says with both organizations she was able to push the diversity agenda.
She has been happy to hear some of the leadership that has come out of AEJMC.
She talks about being nominated to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She says it was a very long process of 2 years.
She says she's had "wonderful opportunities" where her goal was to help her country, particularly the African Americans who have not had champion sometimes.
Her term ended in 2016. She reapplied and is in the process again.
Dates says she has been gratified in working with the 8 people in the corporation. She found that they can be civil even if they have different ideas.
Dr. Barbara Hines closes the interview and thanks Dates for the opportunity.