5 Historic African American Women in Media

With February being Black History Month and March being Women’s History Month, it’s important that we recognize the many iconic African-American women that have helped shape the United States as we see it today. Without the countless contributions of African-American women, our country would not be nearly as innovative as we see it today. African-American women have also made a significant mark on the field of multimedia communications, an area in the workforce that still lacks considerable diversity.

Let’s take a look at the iconic accomplishments of five historic African-American women in media:

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)

Wells was an investigative journalist and early leader of the civil rights movement. She co-owned and wrote for the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper, which covered incidents of racial inequalities. She is most well-known for her investigative work leading an nationwide anti-lynching campaign; she later published her investigative work in a pamphlets called Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases and The Red Record. She gave lecture tours in England that inspired the London Anti-Lynching Committee, the first anti-lynching organization in the world. She was one of the founders of the NAACP and a prominent figure and activist of intersectional feminism.

Alice Allison Dunnigan

Alice Allison Dunnigan (1906-1983)

Dunnigan was a journalist, author, and civil rights activist. She was the first African-American female correspondent to receive White House credentials and the first African-American female member of the press galleries of Congress. Dunnigan was the Washington correspondent for The Chicago Defender and covered Congress and the Senate for the Associated Negro Press. She is also known for her chronicles of the decline of Jim Crow laws during ’40s and ’50s and becoming the first African-American journalist to accompany a United States president while traveling, covering President Harry S. Truman’s campaign trip in 1948.

Marvel Cooke

Marvel Cooke (1903-2000)

Cooke was a journalist, writer, and civil rights activist. She was the first African-American woman to work at a white-owned newspaper. She began her career working under W. E. B. Du Bois writing for The Crisis, the NAACP’s magazine and would later write for the mainstream New York newspaper The Daily Compass, earing her the hitroric title of the first African-Americna woman to work for a largely circulated white-owned newspaper. The wrote on a array of topics, but is most known for her coverage of youth drug usage in the African-American community and the exploitation of African-American domestic workers. She also formed a writing club to support creative African-American authors, one of the members being famous author Richard Wright.

Carole Simpson

Carole Simpson (1941-Present)

Simpson was a broadcast journalist, news anchor, author, and the first African-American woman to become an anchor for a mainstream U.S. network newscast. She is most famously known as the face of the ABC program “World News Tonight” for 15 years. She became the first woman of color to moderate a presidential debate in the race between President George H.W. Bush, Governor Bill Clinton, and businessman Ross Perot. She reported during the height of the civil-rights movement and had the opportunity to cover and meet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jayne Kennedy

Jayne Kennedy (1951-Present)

Kennedy is sportscaster, actress, model, philanthropist, corporate spokesperson, writer, public speaker, and was the first African-American woman to host a network sports television broadcast. She took over for Phyllis George, another female sports broadcasting pioneer, in 1978 to host “The NFL Today”, a prominent CBS program. Kennedy also won the 1982 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her perfomance in the movie Body and Soul. More recently, she has been a spokesperson for the Children’s Miracle Network.

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