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Maria Bush

Making a Difference

Maria Bush

Going Public

I grew up in the ’60s, so I grew up in the era of initiatives, of crusades … The programs KET airs focus on issues that are relevant to Kentucky.
Maria Bush – Frankfort community organizer

The path that Maria Bush’s life has taken began in the 1960s, when she was among a group of African-American students whose enrollment desegregated Syracuse University. They worked with the private New York college to open a black studies program, establish a student union, and, informally, helped to enlighten its students about the virtues of diversity.

That path also led Bush through the 1970s and women’s lib, through her career in state government in human services and the Governor’s Office of Technology, from which she retired eight years ago, to finally her work today as a community organizer from her base of operations in Frankfort.

Maria Bush

“I grew up in the ’60s, so I grew up in the era of initiatives, of crusades—you have the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s and the Women’s Movement in the ’70s,” she said. “Those were things that I was integrally involved in.”

And today, though she’s put down her banners, when Bush needs a window on the legislative process and the work of the Kentucky General Assembly, wants to discover new points of view—or to meet in a virtual statewide town hall with her fellow Kentuckians, she turns to KET and its extensive lineup of public affairs programming.

“The programs KET airs focus on issues that are relevant to Kentucky,” said Bush, who belongs to organizations including The Links and Delta Sigma Theta, both international African-American women’s service groups; the Frankfort Women’s Club; the Bluegrass Alliance for Women; and the Frankfort Chapter of the NAACP.

“There’s a wide diversity in the programs, and they provide a lot of information that I find very useful.”

Bush is a regular viewer of Connections with Renee Shaw, which focuses on issues related to women and minorities. She often takes ideas presented on the program back to her organizations, sharing what’s she learned.

In particular, Bush appreciated recent Connections programs featuring Dr. LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, director of Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, and Shelby Jenkins, the current Miss Black Kentucky. Both women discussed issues of intense concern to Bush’s organizations, such as the foster-care system and health care.

“These issues are relevant to what we’re trying to accomplish, particularly my sorority, which is primarily made up of African-American women,” she said. “We’re dealing with things that primarily face African Americans in the community, health issues and otherwise. I pick up a lot of useful information from Connections.”

Other programs Bush enjoys in KET’s public affairs lineup are the long-running Comment on Kentucky, where journalists give their take on weekly news; Kentucky Tonight, the panel discussion featuring a diversity of viewpoints on issues important to Kentuckians; and PBS NewsHour, which provides extensive national and international coverage of important events and analysis.

With health-care reform on everyone’s mind this summer, KET’s health programming initiatives come to the fore, including HealthThree60. And as the fall election draws near, KET’s candidate programs, culminating with comprehensive election-night programming, becomes more important than ever.

“All the civic activities that I am involved in, all the community organizations, I’m probably busier than I was when I worked,” laughs Bush, who says she often makes appointments with her television to catch the programs she wants to see.

“To be a well-informed Kentuckian, KET is a valuable resource,” she concludes. “And you can also extrapolate what you’ve learned to the national, to the global arena. What are we all talking about right now?  ObamaCare.  KET’s programming is relevant to that, and we’re all going to have to figure out these things, together.”