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The Lalastack Of Old Books And Glasses
The Lalastack Of Old Books And Glasses
Her Campus Media
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Hampton U chapter.

February, which is Black History Month, is a special time to celebrate black excellence. Black History Month is a time when African-Americans reflect on the brave men and women who have paved the way for us despite the many struggles they faced. To kick off Black History Month, I have decided to write about Ethel L. Payne , also known as the First Lady of the Black Press. 


Ethel L. Payne was born August 14th, 1911 to William A. Payne and Bessie Austin Payne on the south side of Chicago, Illinois. During her childhood, Ethel loved to read, especially the poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. In 1948, Payne left Chicago to work in Japan for the Army Special Services club. During the Korean War, she wrote about the treatment of the African American troops. For example, she wrote about the racial slurs that were used against them, and the babies that were abandoned because they were born to Japanese mothers and Black fathers. 


Payne showed a Korean War reporter, Alex Wilson, her notes on the Korean war. Wilson urged her to send her notes to the Chicago Defender, a newspaper for African-America communities. Ethel’s notes on the Korean War gave her a boost, but she also received backlash for telling the upsetting truths about the war. 


Payne was offered a full-time position at the Defender and began writing in 1961. During her time as a reporter, Ethel focused on stories that were not discussed frequently. She wrote and spoke on big events in history like the Civil Rights movement, the Army-McCarthy trials, Brown v. Board of Education, Vietnam War and more. 


Ethel Payne was also the first African-American woman to join the White House Press corps. As a correspondent for the Defender, Payne was able to ask President Eisenhower about his decisions pertaining to the Civil Rights Movement, immigration, segregation, and discrimination throughout the United States. In addition to Eisenhower, Payne also reported on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. 


Payne also traveled overseas to report on international affairs. In 1970, Ethel Payne broke another barrier by becoming the first African-American woman to appear on a national network as a radio and television commentator. She worked for CBS from 1972-1982. After Payne left the Defender in 1978, she served as a professor for the School of Journalism at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. 


Sadly, Ethel passed away from a heart attack on May 28th, 1991. She will always be remembered for being a brave and courageous journalist. Even when she faced trials and tribulations, she never gave up! Ethel Payne is very inspirational and as a journalism major, her life story spoke volumes to me. I am so honored to share her story! 

Chance Thweatt

Hampton U '21

My name is Chance Thweatt and I am a member of the Her-Campus Hampton U chapter. I am a third-year Journalism major, Political Science minor currently studying at Hampton University.
I have the privilege to serve as Campus Correspondent for the Her Campus Hampton U Chapter a second year! I am a graduating Senior, Strategic Communications major, Marketing minor currently studying at the illustrious Hampton University. I am from Richmond, VA (shoutout to the 804!). In addition to classes, I run my own creative agency, Tiana Nichelle Marketing where I specialize in social media management, content creation, public relations, and branding. My love for the PR and Communications industry is the reason my ultimate goal is to become a celebrity publicist in the upcoming years! Her Campus Hampton U is an organization that is near and dear to me and I am so happy to be a leader of this ELITE chapter!