Ethel Payne, born in 1911 for more than 30 years was known as the First Lady of the Black Press, was one of the nation’s first black women to serve as a war correspondent for a daily newspaper. Working for the Chicago Daily Defender, she wrote about Black troops being segregated in the Korean War and often being sent to the front lines without proper training resulting in many casualties.
She was the second black female to cover the White House which at that time Dwight Eisenhower was president. Payne wrote from many African countries, Vietnam and China and covered the Apollo 17 space launch. She was a special inspiration to seniors as in her 70’s she stayed on the road, not allowing her age to define her duties. She was my close friend and mentor, who taught me the ins and outs of becoming a Washington writer. Payne died in 1991 at age 80. A U.S. postage stamp was commissioned in her honor in Sept. 2002.
Read more about Ethel Payne in our exclusive interview, only available in my book, And Still We Rise.