In her autobiography, Alice A. Dunnigan: A Black Woman’s Experience, she recounts some of the indignities she suffered while traveling on behalf of President John F. Kennedy’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity. On one such occasion she was in Frankfort in 1963, and she was tossed from one hotel to the next trying to obtain a room. She was told, “No vacancies,” so she spent the night sitting up in the bus station.
Born in Russellville in 1906, Dunnigan began writing one-sentence items for the Owensboro Enterprise at the age of thirteen. After she completed the teaching course at what is now Kentucky State University, Dunnigan taught Kentucky History in the segregated Todd County School System. When she noticed that her students were not aware of the contributions of African Americans to the health and welfare of the Commonwealth, Dunnigan prepared “Kentucky Fact Sheets,” which she gave to students as supplements to the required text. By 1939 these articles had been collected into manuscript form but no publisher was found until1982 when The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Tradition was published by the Associated Publishers, Inc.
She moved to Washington, D.C. during World War II and became the first African American female correspondent to receive White House credentials. Dunnigan built a solid reputation for her “no-holds barred” style of reporting. Nationally and internationally she was a pacesetter for Black female news reporters as she chronicled the progress of civil rights.
-- A.G. Dunstan, Ph.D.
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