Media Monday – February 8, Harry McAlpin

Black Journalist, Harry McAlpin circa 1944

Media Monday

On February 8,  1944, Harry McAlpin, Jr. became the first Black journalist admitted to cover the White House press conferences. McAlpin was a reporter for the National Negro Publishers Association and the Atlanta Daily Press.  Prior to his admittance, minority reporters were excluded from White House press conferences.  Although McAlpin was a regular attendee during the tenures of President Roosevelt and Truman, he was never extended an invitation to join the White House Correspondents Association.  The Association attempted to remedy this snub in 2014 by posthumously establishing a Scholarship in McAlpin’s name. Notably, despite having been admitted to cover the White House, McAlpin was never granted permission to cover congress. 

McAlpin was born on July 21, 1906 in Louisville, Kentucky to Harry Sr. and Louise Scott McAlpin. He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1926 and married Alice Stokes three years later. The McAlpins relocated to Washington D.C., where Harry worked as a journalist for the Washington Tribune. McAlpin earned his law degree from Robert Terrell Law School in 1937, while working full time.  After earning his law degree, he served as an assistant to Mary McLeod Bethune, and worked part-time as a reporter for the Chicago defender. 

McAlpin was a delegate to the 1956 Democratic Convention representing Kentucky.  Also, McAlpin was a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the Elks, the Masons and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, serving as Branch President towards the end of his life. During his illustrious career, in addition to being a journalist, McAlpin served as a war correspondent, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, and a practicing lawyer.

Pamela Newkirk, Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media (2000)

Charles Horsley, “Pioneering Black Newsman in the White House Belatedly Gets His Due” (April 10, 2014)

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