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Thursday, March 30, 2023


Living archives series continues

The 15th Annual Living Archives series sponsored by UH Friends of Women Studies welcomed Joanne King Herring as their guest in the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library on Oct. 25.

Herring, long-time host of KHOU’s “The Joanne King Show,” is a political activist, socialite and author best known for her work as an adviser in the Afghanistan war. This role gave her wide recognition when she was portrayed by Julia Roberts in the 2008 film, “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

At the event, she discussed her new memoir, “Diplomacy and Diamonds,” as she answered questions in an interview with Claudia Freeman, a journalist for The Houston Chronicle.

Herring said that her struggles with dyslexia for most of her childhood shook her confidence; she credits her father for giving her the strength to succeed.

“As a child I was very unattractive. I was tall. I was not only the tallest girl in my class, but I was the tallest child in my class,” Herring said. “My father didn’t forgive anybody for being ugly. I couldn’t read and write. My preschool and elementary days were very bad. I know what it’s like to have no one who is like you.”

“One time, I was riding a horse, and a snake got around me. My father told me to kill it and I was scared; I did not know how to kill it. My father told me, ‘Kill it, kill it!’ and I got a stick and hit it until it died. This is what brought me my confidence.”

Herring received her degree at the University of Texas, but said she was not serious about her studies. She never went to her economics class, and made another student, an economics major, take the tests in her place.

“The only way I got through was through memorizing the material,” Herring said.

She married real estate developer Robert King. During the marriage, she began her work in television with the “Joanne King Show,” which lasted 15 years.

“My grandmother started the Women’s Christian Mission, because she wanted a shelter for women — at the time there were only shelters for men,” she said.

“I went to the KHOU-TV station and told them stories about what had happened to some of the women, and they asked, ‘Would you like to come back?’”

Herring’s work extends far past television. She has had meetings with well-known figures ranging from the Duke of Windsor to former President Ronald Reagan. She has also received honors and awards for her dedication and involvement to and in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Morocco. She spoke about her life in international politics, describing her time as an honorary counsel member in Morocco and a roaming ambassador in Pakistan.

She ended the interview by answering audience questions and autographing her memoir for students and members of the public.

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