Women in Film & Television History: Meet Ethel Payne, Journalist & First Female African-American National Network News Commentator

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.


(via washingtonpost.com)

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.



Mellini_Kantayya Mellini Kantayya is an actor, author of "Actor. Writer. Whatever. (essays on my rise to the top of the bottom of the entertainment industry)", contributor to Huffington Post Comedy, and an active NYWIFT member. www.mellinikantayya.com

View all posts by Mellini_Kantayya

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