First Black reporter attends a White House press conference

Harry S. McAlpin
Tue, 1944-02-08

*On this date in 1944, Harry S. McAlpin was the first African American journalist admitted to a white house press conference.

He was working for the National Negro Press Association and the Atlanta Daily World. On that day, McAlpin was waiting to go into the Oval Office, where they had press conferences at that time, when a white reporter from the New Orleans Times-Picayune spoke to him. The reporter who was head of the White House Press Correspondents Association said, "Harry, we're not happy that you're here, but we can't stop you from going to these press conferences. However, if you don't go to these press conferences, we will come out afterward and we will tell you everything that happened. You will have the exact same notes we do. You will find it possible to write the same stories that we do. And, if you don't go, we will let you join the White House Press Correspondents Association."

McAlpin went into the press conference and at the end of it he made a point of going by President Franklin Roosevelt's desk. Roosevelt shook McAlpin's hand and said, "Harry, I'm glad to have you here." In 1947, the Negro Newspaper Publishers association and some individual news correspondents were accredited to the Congressional Press Galleries and the State Department. The early journalists accredited were James L. Hicks, Percival L. Prattis and Louis Lautier.

Black First:
2,000 years of extraordinary achievement
by Jessie Carney Smith
Copyright 1994 Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI
ISBN 0-8103-9490-1

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