Sarah-Ann Sha, Klare Shaw, Boston Common, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu

Trailblazing Boston Journalist Sarah Ann Shaw Honored At Memorial

Over her 31 years as an on-air reporter at Boston's WBZ-TV, Shaw often was the voice for Boston's Black community.

Sarah Ann Shaw, the first Black woman television news reporter in Boston, was honored at a celebration of her life on April 27. Shaw died on March 21 at the age of 90, and in addition to being a lifelong resident of Roxbury, she was also a community activist and fixture in the Boston arts community. 

According to her obituary, Shaw left an indelible legacy behind. Over her 31 years as an on-air reporter at Boston’s WBZ-TV, Shaw often was the voice for Boston’s Black community. Shaw provided comfort to Black parents and students as she covered the school desegregation and accompanying violence, preserving their side of the story in her reporting. 

Shaw served as the Region One director of the National Association of Black Journalists in 1979, the organization would later honor her with a lifetime achievement award during its 1998 conference. Shaw was also a president of the Boston Association of Black Journalists, who also recognized her work with an award in 1993. Shaw was the recipient of numerous awards and honors over the course of her life, including the Drum Major for Justice award from the Boston branch of the NAACP, the Boston Celtics gave her the “Hero Among Us” award in January 2023, Shaw was enshrined in the “1965 Freedom Plaza,” which her obituary noted carried special significance to her as many of her comrades in Boston’s civil rights activist community received public recognition for their work. 

Though not a religious woman, Shaw was known as a woman of great spiritual and moral courage. She spoke out that she did not appreciate the way that organized religion treated women, same-gender loving people, or the rigid hierarchy present across multiple denominations. Still, she was honored by many churches in the Boston area due to her work in the community. As CBS News reported, Shaw’s memorial service was held at Bethel AME Church and was officiated by Rev. Liz Walker, a retired WBZ news anchor who also worked with Shaw. Congresswoman Ayanna Presley, who considered Shaw an inspiration to her, also spoke at the service. 

“Sarah Ann Shaw was a warrior woman. An exemplar of community, activism, advocacy journalism. A woman passionate about her family, the quality of life in her community, the city, and the world.” Rev. Walker continued, “Sarah-Ann was in love with this city. She wasn’t afraid to fight for Boston, or to fight Boston.”

As The Boston Globe reported, Shaw’s early activism coincided with some of the worst parts of Boston’s residential segregation and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu described Shaw’s reporting on the assassinations of Martin Luther King J.r and John F. Kennedy during the 1960s. “It was as if something inside her was determined to put the pieces of our world back together,” Wu told the outlet. 

Wu also gave Shaw credit for giving her the idea that she, too, could help shape Boston’s community, telling the Globe were it not for Shaw, “I would have not had the confidence to think that I could be a part of representing, and giving a sense of what the future of our community could look like.”

Shaw’s daughter, Klare Shaw, told the Globe that she has been overwhelmed by flowers, friendly comments, and outreach from community and political leaders in Boston asking how they can be of service. Klare Shaw told the Globe that the family is working on selecting a date for a day of service in June, during which the participants will perform community service and register people to vote. “It’s the most fitting thing we could do in her legacy,” Klare Shaw said. 

Sarah Ann Shaw is survived by Klare Shaw; two “children by love and choice,” Linda Palmer and Eric Mesa; three adult grandchildren, Eric Shaw-Moss, Caroline Amina Shaw-Moss, and Kai Palmer Dunning; one great-grandchild, Nyzohn Eric Small; and a host of relatives and friends.