I recently heard that Ron Stallworth, subject of the book and the Academy Award-winning film Black Klansman, was told he would be the “Jackie Robinson of the Colorado Springs police force.” This made me wonder if Jackie Robinson was ever told he would be the Alice Dunnigan of Major League Baseball.
Before Robinson famously broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Alice Dunnigan became the first black woman credited with covering the White House and was the head of the Washington Bureau of the Associated Negro Press for 14 years beginning in 1947. Dunnigan was incredibly successful, especially for her day. Not only did she cover the White House, she was also the first African American woman to be part of the Senate and House of Representatives press galleries, and she followed Harry S Truman on his famous 1948 Whistle Stop Campaign.
When I hear about trailblazing pioneers like Alice Dunnigan, I wish I could talk to them about their lives. If you’d like to learn a bit more about Alice Dunnigan, you can read about her in some of the Library’s online resources (you’ll just need your Library card). But more than reading about someone, I wish I could look that person in the eye and say, “Thank you for your courage.”
Although Alice Dunnigan passed away in 1983, you can still look her in the eye…sort of. A statue of Dunnigan is touring the country and is currently in the lobby of the Harry S Truman Presidential Library here in Independence! If you would like to see this and learn more about her, the Truman Library will have a program about Dunnigan’s life on Thursday, April 18, at 6:30 p.m. As part of the program, attendees will hear from former journalist Dr. Nancy Dawson, artist Amanda Matthews (sculptor of the Alice Dunnigan statue), and journalist and granddaughter of Alice Dunnigan, Soraya Dunnigan Brandon.
Find out more about the event from the Truman Library, and make sure to mark your calendars now so you can meet these great people and learn more about this trailblazing journalist, activist, and author.
Steven V. Potter
MCPL Director & CEO