Photo credit: Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
During her 77 years of life, Alice Allison Dunnigan broke both racial and gender barriers to become the first Black woman to receive press credentials to cover the White House – as well as the first Black woman allowed to cover Congress, the Supreme Court, and the State Department.
To remember and honor Dunnigan’s incredible legacy, the Newseum in Washington, D.C. unveiled a bronze life-size statue in her likeness on Friday, September 21. Friends, colleagues and members of Dunnigan’s family were among the guests who attended the unveiling ceremony.
Contributing stories to 112 African American newspapers, Dunnigan also broke the glass ceiling as the first Black member of the Women’s National Press Club, and the first Black woman to be in the House of Representatives and Senate press galleries and the State Department press corps.
“Monuments inform us of our past, but they also lead us toward our future,” Amanda Matthews, who made the statue, said during the ceremony. “Alice Dunnigan envisioned a future of equality and she dedicated her life to that vision as a teacher, a journalist, an editor and a champion for civil rights and women. She is why we’re all here today, to continue to support that vision.”
After December 16, the statue of Dunnigan will be permanently moved to West Kentucky African American Heritage Center in Dunnigan’s hometown of Russellville, Kentucky.
“If she was here, she would say we’ve made great inroads in the ’40s and then came the ’60s and we’re now where we are,” said Dunnigan’s granddaughter Soraya Dunnigan Brandon of Durham, North Carolina. “But the same issues are still there, so I think she would say that we have to keep working.”