Monday, May 02, 2022

First two Black women in White House press corps honored with lifetime achievement awards

African American reporters, Alice Dunnigan and Ethel Payne both received posthumous honors Saturday during the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Dunnigan was the first African American female reporter to be credentialed at the White House in 1947. She was joined on the beat by Ms. Payne a few years later.

Both women distinguished themselves during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, regularly pressing him at his press conferences – when no other reporters would – about his administration’s support for civil rights for Black Americans.

Dunnigan and Payne, both of whom penned articles for the Chicago Defender, were recognized by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which bestowed the Dunnigan-Payne Prize for Lifetime Career Achievement Award to each.

The WHCA announced they would present the award, which recognizes meritorious service throughout an individual’s career as a White House correspondent.

During a black-tie gala at the Washington Hilton on Saturday, Gayle King of “CBS Mornings” presented the award to relatives of Dunnigan and Payne, who died in 1983 and 1991, respectively.

“This association of White House reporters has never given its due to these two pioneering WHCA members who paved the way for so many,” said WHCA President Steven Portnoy.

“We are proud to see to it that Alice Dunnigan and Ethel Payne will be forever remembered for their service to the profession and to the American public,” Portnoy said.

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