By Mellini Kantayya
Ethel Payne (1911-1991) was known in as “the first lady of the black press” and was described by journalist Gwen Ifil as “the most influential journalist and activist most people have never heard of.”
Payne began her career reporting for The Chicago Defender, an African-American newspaper where she was a member of the White House Press Corp and thorn in Eisenhower’s side. She had a reputation for taking the president to the mat by asking tough questions, thus shaping the national conversation on the Civil Rights Movement. In 1972 she was hired by CBS, making her the first African-American woman radio and television commentator on a national network. She remained at CBS until 1982.
Learn more about Ethel Payne on the PBS NewsHour website, or her biography Eye On the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press by James McGrath Morris.
It may seem Black Girl Magic in film is everywhere these days. But NYWIFT Board Member Leslie Fields-Cruz will share a secret with you: That “magic” isn’t really magic at all. It’s the result of more than a century of hard work, perseverance, and phenomenal endurance by black women media makers who’ve paved the way for a future that demands inclusivity, parity, and equal representation.READ MORE
In 2000, writer, director, and past NYWIFT Writers Lab mentor Gina Prince-Bythewood blazed a trail with her film Love and Basketball. Not only was the film a critical and commercial success, it won the Humanitas Prize and an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature.READ MORE
Twenty years ago a young artist set out to make a documentary about women like herself: black queer filmmakers. She found nothing but homophobia and omission, and then… inspiration. The resulting film The Watermelon Woman marked Cheryl Dunye’s 1996 debut – a hybrid of autobiography, documentary, and comedy. It defies categorization and was the first feature film directed by an African American lesbian.READ MORE
Black History: The New York Times offers a list of 28 Films for the 28 Days of Black History Month, including our recent Muse honoree...READ MORE