Ethel Payne and her legacy in the black press

Ethel Payne and her legacy in the black press

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Washington Post obituary writers remembering Ethel Payne wrote that if she had not been black, she certainly would have been one of the most recognized journalists in American society. That’s why we picked this book for our Afternoon Shift book club this month. Our book club is about Chicago, whether that’s the city, its writers or its people. And Ethel Payne was a Chicagoan. The granddaughter of slaves, she grew up in Englewood in the early 1900s. She was a graduate of Lindbloom, she was the Chicago Defender’s one-woman Washington bureau for decades, and she was the third black reporter to get a White House press pass. Her life story is painstakingly detailed in a biography that came out last month. It’s called “Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press.” The author James McGrath Morris joins us in studio.