Trailblazing Black Journalist Gets Recognized With Honorary Scholarship

Harry McAlpin broke color lines at the White House in 1944 by becoming the first Black journalist permitted to cover a presidential press conference.

Seventy years ago, Harry McAlpin became the first Black journalist to cover an Oval Office press conference. A college scholarship will be now named in his honor by the White House Correspondents' Association and awarded to a promising college student.

As a White House correspondent for the Atlanta Daily World, he faced objection from the Correspondents' Association, which had been an all-white club for years. But at the request of the Negro Newspaper Publishers Association, President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened his doors in 1944, greeting the reporter as he came by his desk: "Glad to see you, McAlpin."

"The president could break the color line for his press conferences, but he could not rewrite the WHCA's membership policies," writer George Condon told NPR.

"They blackballed [McAlpin] from ever joining the Correspondents' Association or attending the group's annual dinner."

Members of the association will recognize the pioneering journalist, who died in 1985, at its centennial in May, when the first Harry S. McAlpin Scholarship will be awarded. 

Sherman McAlpin, the journalist's son, told NPR that he was "thrilled" about the news. He also alluded to his father's legacy as a whole, which included serving as a war correspondent in the South Pacific and spearheading the NAACP chapter in Louisville, Kentucky. 

"The White House correspondent era was just one facet of my dad's life," Sherman said

"He has been and continues to be my hero."

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(Photo: MCT/Landov)

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