In 1942 Alice Allison Dunnigan, a sharecropper’s daughter from Kentucky, made her way to the nation’s capital and a career in journalism that eventually led her to the White House. With Alone atop the Hill, Carol McCabe Booker has condensed Dunnigan’s 1974 self-published autobiography to appeal to a general audience and has added scholarly annotations that provide historical context. Dunnigan’s dynamic story reveals her importance to the fields of journalism, women’s history, and the civil rights movement and creates a compelling portrait of a groundbreaking American.
Dunnigan recounts her formative years in rural Kentucky as she struggled for a living, telling bluntly and simply what life was like in a Border State in the first half of the twentieth century. Later she takes readers to Washington, D.C., where we see her rise from a typist during World War II to a reporter. Ultimately she would become the first black female reporter accredited to the White House; authorized to travel with a U.S. president; credentialed by the House and Senate Press Galleries; accredited to the Department of State and the Supreme Court; voted into the White House Newswomen’s Association and the Women’s National Press Club; and recognized as a Washington sports reporter.
A contemporary of Helen Thomas and a forerunner of Ethel Payne, Dunnigan traveled with President Truman on his coast-to-coast, whistle-stop tour; was the first reporter to query President Eisenhower about civil rights; and provided front-page coverage for more than one hundred black newspapers of virtually every race issue before the Congress, the federal courts, and the presidential administration. Here she provides an uninhibited, unembellished, and unvarnished look at the terrain, the players, and the politics in a roughand- tumble national capital struggling to make its way through a nascent, postwar racial revolution.
CAROL McCABE BOOKER is a former journalist and Washington, D.C., attorney. She is coauthor with her husband, journalist Simeon Booker, of the highly acclaimed history Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement.
Table of Contents
Editor's Note xi
Part I Those Early Years
Chapter 1 No Greater Thrill 5
Chapter 2 The Family Tree and Its Bittersweet Fruit 9
Chapter 3 Alone atop a Hill 15
Chapter 4 School Days 25
Chapter 5 Where There's a Will 39
Chapter 6 The Job Hunt 46
Chapter 7 The Ups and Downs of My First Job 50
Chapter 8 A Plunge into the Sea of Matrimony 58
Chapter 9 A Rugged Voyage Ends 66
Chapter 10 Moving On 74
Chapter 11 Wading through the Depression 79
Chapter 12 Seeking Identity, Experience, and Recognition 90
Part II A Great New World
Chapter 13 Converging on Washington 103
Chapter 14 Breaking Down Race-and Gender-Barriers 107
Chapter 15 A Trip with the President 116
Chapter 16 The Civil Rights Fights of the Forties 134
Chapter 17 Profiles of Injustice 143
Chapter 18 The President Proposes; the Congress Debates 153
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