First African-American journalist in White House Press Corps


In 1944 on this day, Harry S. McAlpin was admitted into a White House press conference, becoming the first African-American to receive White House press credentials. At the time he worked for the National Negro Press Association and the Atlanta Daily World, which was the first successful African-American daily newspaper in the country. On that day, when about to enter the Oval Office, where press conferences were held at the time, another reporter, who was the head of the White House Press Correspondents Association, approached McAlpin and said, “Harry, we’re not happy that you’re here, but we can’t stop you from going to these press conferences. However, if you don’t go to these press conferences, we will come out afterward and we will tell you everything that happened. You will have the exact same notes we do. You will find it possible to write the same stories that we do. And, if you don’t go, we will let you join the White House Press Correspondents Association.” Despite the other reporters dismay, McAlpin attended the conference and at the end President Roosevelt shook his hand saying, “Harry, I’m glad to have you here.” As the sole African-American reporter for that beat, his coverage went out to 51 Black newspapers nationwide. He stayed on until 1946, also covering President Truman. He was later a Navy war correspondent and worked for the Department of Agriculture.

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