White House Press Corps Pays Homage to Black Journalist Harry McAlpin

The group honors the legacy of McAlpin, the first black reporter to attend a presidential news conference.

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Harry McAlpin

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At Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the group honored black reporter Harry McAlpin, with first lady Michelle Obama presenting a scholarship bearing his name to Howard University student Glynn Hill, the Associated Press reports.

The White House Correspondents’ Association—an organization of journalists who cover the president and the White House—is certainly celebrating its 100th year of existence in style.

The association never welcomed McAlpin, the first black reporter to attend a presidential news conference, during his tenure. In fact, on that fateful day in February 1944, reporters tried to deter McAlpin from his goal, promising that other correspondents would share their notes and that he would have a shot at becoming an official member of the association if he did not attend the conference with President Franklin Roosevelt.

McAlpin did not listen to them and instead walked straight into the Oval Office. Afterward, the AP notes, Roosevelt shook his hand, saying, “I’m glad to see you, McAlpin, and very happy to have you here.”

Although McAlpin was ever present in covering the Roosevelt and Truman presidential administrations, White House Correspondents’ Association rules barred him from membership.

Saturday night, 60 years after McAlpin’s historic actions, the association remedied its error, giving McAlpin membership posthumously, along with naming a scholarship after him.

“Harry McAlpin is someone who should be recognized and shouldn’t be forgotten,” National Journal correspondent George Condon, the association’s unofficial historian, said last week during a panel discussion about diversity and the press corps, the AP reports.

McAlpin died in 1985, years after leaving Washington to practice law in Kentucky, and eventually becoming president of the local NAACP chapter.

Read more at the Associated Press.

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