Helen Thomas being remembered at AANM

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — The Arab American National Museum is celebrating and commemorating the life of former senior White House correspondent and AAMN National Advisory Board member Helen Thomas in a permanent display in its “Making an Impact” exhibition.

Thomas died on July 20.

“Helen’s life is a remarkable American success story, a rich fulfillment of the American dream,” AAMN Director Devon Akmon said. “Her immigrant parents took the risk, sought the opportunities for themselves and their children, and raised Helen to be the independent, tireless achiever she was — a woman who did not allow her gender, ethnic heritage and later, her age, to limit her goals in any way.”

Born of Lebanese parents, Thomas had a long history with the museum, including becoming a National Advisory Board member while the museum was still on the drawing board.

In 2010, she received the AANM’s Lifetime Achievement Award and later visited the museum with several family members to mark the permanent installation of a bust created in her likeness. The bust was funded by online donations and created by sculptor and former White House photojournalist Susan Tinsley McElhinney.

Beside the bust, the museum has several artifacts of Thomas’ long career in journalism. The display is centered by a pale blue portable typewriter owned, used and donated by Thomas. A collection of vintage media credentials from her career is also on display.

Akmon said that Thomas was “sometimes feared and reviled as she pursued accountability from 10 presidential administrations,” but she was also trailblazer for aspiring female journalists. She was the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member of the Gridiron Club and the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

“She observed and reported history, but she also made history herself, by breaking barriers and embracing her role as a journalist to the utmost. That is why it is the AANM’s honor to preserve and celebrate her accomplishments and legacy, and ensure that her contributions to our nation are never forgotten.”

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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