Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents

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Foreword

Simeon Booker

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pp. ix-x

I knew Alice Dunnigan for all the years I worked in Washington, first as a reporter for the Washington Post, and then as bureau chief for Jet and Ebony magazines, until her death in 1983. Quiet, unassuming, and plainspoken, she had a passion for both journalism and politics, and...

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Editor’s Note

Carol M. Booker

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pp. xi-xvi

It wasn’t the poverty of a washerwoman’s life in rural Kentucky that drove young Alice Allison relentlessly to succeed as a professional. Poverty would be with her for most of her life, even as a national reporter for more than one hundred black weekly newspapers...

Preface

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pp. 1-2

Part I. Those Early Years

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Chapter 1. No Greater Thrill

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pp. 5-8

I arrived at the northwest gate of the White House at nine o’clock on a typically hot, muggy Washington morning in August 1947. Trying to appear composed and nonchalant, while anything but...

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Chapter 2. The Family Tree and Its Bittersweet Fruit

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pp. 9-14

Frederick Douglass once said, “Do not judge me by the heights to which I have risen, but by the depths from which I have come.”
My father, as the story goes, was the grandson of Jack Allison, a plantation owner. Grandpa Jack (as we called him) was never married but sired...

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Chapter 3. Alone atop a Hill

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pp. 15-24

My journey began in the three-room, whitewashed cottage where I was born on April 27, 1906. The house stood all alone atop a low, red clay hill about two hundred yards from the highway (or “pike” as we called...

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Chapter 4. School Days

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pp. 25-38

Looking back now to that Sunday school incident of my very early childhood, I realize that out of it came some good. After my mother took me out of Sunday school at my brother’s insistence, she was asked by my teacher, Miss Arletta Vaughn, why I no longer attended...

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Chapter 5. Where There’s a Will

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pp. 39-45

Monday was a busy day in the Allison household as we tried to get a few things ready for school. We had learned from the catalogue that girls wore uniforms. This was to my advantage, as it was to any poor girl, and the reason why the policy was adopted.
The girls’ class uniforms for winter were navy blue...

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Chapter 6. The Job Hunt

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pp. 46-49

Back in Russellville, I spent almost the entire summer of 1924 searching for a job, and it was the most difficult and disappointing period of my life. I was proud of my two-year elementary teacher’s certificate and clutched it tightly in a large manila envelope when I visited the Logan...

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Chapter 7. The Ups and Downs of My First Job

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pp. 50-57

Reverend Bigbee picked me up at five o’clock on Labor Day morning, having offered to drive me to my new post and see that I got started on the right foot. Two hours later, we approached the school, stopping nearby at a three-room double log house occupied by two elderly ladies, the widow Frances Tutt and her crippled, spinster sister, whom everyone called...

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Chapter 8. A Plunge into the Sea of Matrimony

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pp. 58-65

Life did not seem the same on the opening day of the second term at Mount Pisgah. My father and brother drove me down, dropping me at the same boardinghouse, where I was warmly welcomed by my landladies, Miss Frances and Miss Molly. My students of last year greeted me with affectionate hugs and friendly...

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Chapter 9. A Rugged Voyage Ends

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pp. 66-73

I tried to persuade my husband to move to Russellville, where I thought each of us might have a better chance to find employment since I knew many important people there and was quite well known myself. I even made a deposit on the down payment of a cute little white bungalow with a deep, green lawn located...

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Chapter 10. Moving On

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pp. 74-78

When I applied for campus work at West Kentucky Industrial College, I was immediately offered a job as second cook, for which I was to receive full board but no cash. This didn’t sound very glamorous on the surface, but it turned out to be a very satisfactory spot. wkic was founded by Dr. D. H. Anderson and his wife, Artelia, for the sole purpose of providing...

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Chapter 11. Wading through the Depression

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pp. 79-89

Up until this time, I had been so busy with the challenges of my personal life that I had paid little attention to the problem of racial discrimination. But this issue hit me rather forcefully at the first countywide teachers meeting in Logan County, which I attended on Saturday prior to the opening day of schools...

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Chapter 12. Seeking Identity, Experience, and Recognition

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pp. 90-100

It was a relief to be back in a position of dignity, but I was faced with another immediate problem. I had no means of supporting myself until the first paycheck arrived, about six weeks after school began. I was fortunate to renew my previous arrangements for transportation to school, and the landlord was...

Part II. A Great New World

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Chapter 13. Converging on Washington

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pp. 103-106

One of my college professors often counseled her students to always find their way to the YWCA when in a strange city. “It’s the best, cheapest, and safest place to stay,” she’d advised. I learned she was right when I went to Louisville to work on a newspaper and again when I accompanied “Uncle Joe” Bowles...

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Chapter 14. Breaking Down Race—and Gender—Barriers

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pp. 107-115

I began my job as chief of the Washington Bureau for the Associated Negro Press on the first day of January 1947. My first assignment was to cover the potential ouster of Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi from the U.S. Senate for misconduct.1 I was fairly familiar with legislative procedure and with the Capitol building...

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Chapter 15. A Trip with the President

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pp. 116-133

I had only been an accredited White House reporter for a short time when I noticed an announcement on the bulletin board in the press room regarding President Truman’s forthcoming “nonpolitical” whistlestop trip to the West Coast. Reporters were requested...

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Chapter 16. The Civil Rights Fights of the Forties

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pp. 134-142

After the marathon tour on the Presidential Special, I set my sights on covering the political conventions. There would be three that year, all of them in Philadelphia, including the newly formed Progressive Party’s.
Once again my news agency denied my request, and once again I demonstrated a determination to go...

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Chapter 17. Profiles of Injustice

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pp. 143-152

My first assignment in the criminal-justice arena was the case of Rosa Lee Ingram, a forty-year-old widow and mother of twelve children who was sentenced to death by a Georgia court for the alleged murder of a white farmer named John Ethron Stratford.
The trouble started in November 1947, three months after the death of Mrs. Ingram’s husband...

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Chapter 18. The President Proposes; the Congress Debates

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pp. 153-162

From the Capitol Press Gallery, I listened enthusiastically to President Truman’s strong plea for civil rights legislation and followed the Congress through its entire eightieth session as it failed to adopt any of these proposals, leaving it to the executive branch to take the lead. In addition to creating a civil rights committee...

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Chapter 19. Almost Pushing the Panic Button

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pp. 163-170

Inadequate revenue was the perennial plight of most Negro publications. Since circulation was limited almost exclusively to the black community, advertising sales were very low. The big national companies and chain stores refused to buy space in these periodicals, which had to depend chiefly on subscriptions and operate on a shoestring...

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Chapter 20. Freedom Fights of the Fifties

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pp. 171-185

Monday, March 1, 1954, started out as a quiet—indeed dull—day on Capitol Hill. I was just one of the reporters and columnists roving the Capitol corridors in search of any tidbit of choice news around which to build some copy.
Then all of a sudden—“Boom! Boom!”—the fireworks started. Blazes burst forth from the southeast...

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Chapter 21. Eisenhower’s Pique

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pp. 186-200

During my regular news coverage, I seldom missed a press conference held by top government officials, and I never missed an opportunity to raise questions regarding problems within their respective agencies of concern to black people. Inevitably, I became sort of a “flea in the collar” of many of these officials.
My routine questions regarding...

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Epilogue

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pp. 201-204

Alice Dunnigan took leave from journalism in 1960 to work on the Kennedy-Johnson presidential election campaign, where her primary focus was to keep before the public all of the activities of the vicepresidential candidate favorable to blacks and other minorities. Toward this end...

Acknowledgments

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pp. 205-206

Notes

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pp. 207-218

Index

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pp. 219-223