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Mon, 08.14.1911

Ethel L. Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press

Ethel Payne

*Ethel Lois Payne was born on this date in 1911. She was a Black Journalist, publisher, civil rights leader, and educator; often called the "First Lady of the Black Press."

Ethel Payne, a native of Chicago, began writing full time for The Chicago Defender in 1951. She became chief of The Chicago Defender's Washington bureau in 1954, reporting on the Montgomery Bus Boycott, desegregation efforts at Little Rock Central High School and the March on Washington in 1963. One of her most memorable articles was a series written for The Defender titled The South at the Crossroads, chronicling the South during the 20th century American Civil Rights period. In 1966 she provided on-site coverage of African American troops in Vietnam.

She became the first Black female radio and television commentator at a national news organization when CBS hired her in 1972.  She worked there for ten years.  In the early 1980s she campaigned for the release of South African leader Nelson Mandela from prison.  She died of a heart attack on May 28, 1991, at age 79.

Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

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