“I love my photographs,” says Betty Winston Baye. “If you’d asked me this question some years ago, my answer would have been different. When I was younger, I would wonder why people have photographs all over their houses. They’re on the walls, on the tables, on the piano. I couldn’t understand it, and now I am one of those people.”
Betty Winston Baye is well-known in our community for her extensive work at The Courier-Journal, and she has found national acclaim as a published author, motivational speaker, and college lecturer. Her broad base of work covers critical topics such as race and social justice. Last year Betty worked with WLKY as a columnist and special contributor for Project CommUNITY, which takes a look at these critical issues and their impact in our community, particularly as it connects with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Given the passion Betty has for her work, one might expect her to choose a book or special piece of art as her most-loved item. “There are books everywhere in my house. I have old magazines, stuff I really value from the ‘60s, an extensive collection of African art, but when you ask what I value the most, it is my pictures,” she says. “I look at my photographs and remember…my mom, my dad, my husbands, my sweetheart…all of them have passed away now. They represent different phases of my life. If I had to leave and take one thing, it would have to be my photographs.”
There are special photos from the Black Journalists Conventions she has attended and other pictures that reflect her work and travels. Very special to her is the collection of pictures from her 50th birthday party, nearly 25 years ago. Betty was worried about having a birthday celebration that year because her mother was in New York and was very ill. Her mother convinced her to have it, reminding Betty that not having the party wouldn’t make her well. In addition to taking a lot of photos that day, they made a videotape for her mother and sent it to New York. “All the cousins and everyone at the party said ‘hi’ to mom on that tape. She watched it over and over again in the months before she died and told me it made her smile every time,” Betty recalls.
Betty feels much the same way about those photos from her 50th, thinking fondly of her mom, her family, and her friends and about how quickly time passes. “I didn’t appreciate these things when I was young, but this is my life. I can’t replace 74 years of memories. This is the fruit of the Brown family tree.”
By Megan S. Willman | Photos by Patti Hartog
P.S. Christine Little is showing her life-long passion by volunteering at the zoo.
Elizabeth Herring says
To my cousin Betty, you are a jewel in the Brown family. I have always admire you and your work during the years. My father talked about you, he was proud of his neice being a star. Love you always.