The first African-American reporter ever to receive press credentials to cover the White House, Alice Allison Dunnigan, will be honored with a statue at the Newseum in Washington D.C., a museum that is dedicated to honoring the role a free press plays in American democracy. Dunnigan become nationally famous in the 1940s after she became the first African-American reporter to cover a presidential campaign during Harry Truman’s 1948 “whistle-stop train tour.” Before her death in 1983, she headed The Associated Negro Press for 14 years, wrote stories for 112 African-American newspapers nationally, and become the first black woman to obtain credentials to cover Congress, the Supreme Court, and the State Department.
“Throughout Dunnigan’s career, she battled the rampant racism and sexism that dominated the mostly white and male professions of journalism and politics,” the Newseum said in a statement announcing the news. “She once famously stated, ‘Race and sex were twin strikes against me. I’m not sure which was the hardest to break down.’”
The statue of Dunnigan, which was crafted by sculptor Amanda Matthews, will be on display in the Newseum from September 21 through December 16 before being permanently installed in the reporter’s hometown of Russellville, Kentucky, as part of a park dedicated to the civil rights movement. In recent days, the Newseum itself has been the subject of controversy — not because of the statue of Dunnigan, but for selling Donald Trump-themed merchandise that includes “fake news” shirts. According to critics, the message underlying the shirts runs contrary to the museum’s stated mission of honoring the role of the free press.
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