Members of the African American Heritage Center attend statue unveiling

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Sylvia Payne-Goodner (left), Katherine McCutchen, Alice Bailey and Michael Kennedy stand in front of the statue of Alice Allison Dunnigan, which was unveiled in Russellville, Kentucky on August 2. Reverend Charles McCutchen, Sr. also attended, but was not pictured.

Board members of the African American Heritage Center, in Franklin, and volunteers attended the unveiling of the statue of Alice Allison Dunnigan, which is located in Russellville, Kentucky.

The statue is located on the grounds of the SEEK Museum: Struggles for Emancipation and Equality in Kentucky, on the corner of East 6th and South Morgan Streets.

Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first African American female White House correspondent, and Senate and House of Representatives press galleries member, was remembered on Aug. 2, 2019 in her hometown of Russellville, Kentucky.

Dunnigan was born in Russellville on April 27, 1906, the daughter of a tenant farmer and a laundress. After graduating from the segregated Knob City High School, she completed a Teachers course at what is now known as Kentucky State University and began an 18-year career as a teacher in Logan and Todd Counties. During World War II, Dunnigan moved to Washington, D.C. and began working for the Associated Negro Press. She became head of its Washington Bureau on Jan. 1, 1947. In August of that year, after she had successfully lobbied for a change in the rules of the U.S. Senate to allow African American Journalists to attend Presidential Press Conferences, Dunnigan began her career reporting on all branches of the Federal Government.

In 1948 Dunnigan again made history by being the first African American Woman to travel with and report on a Presidential tour when she went on the Whistle-Stop Tour with President Truman. She personally paid the expenses for this trip after her boss said, "Women don't make trips like that." Her statue has been on its own Whistle Stop tour, having been displayed in Washington D.C., the University of Kentucky, the Truman Presidential Library Museum and Kentucky State University.

The Statue was created by Amanda Matthews and Brad Connell, owners of Prometheus Art of Lexington.

Dunnigan received more than 50 awards during her lifetime, and has been inducted into the Kentucky Halls of Fame for Civil Rights, Journalism and Writers, and the Hall of Fame for the National Association of Black Journalists. She authored two books: "A Black Woman's Experience from the School House to the White House" and "The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians: Their Heritage and Traditions."

In order to commemorate Dunnigan, (author, teacher, civil rights pioneer, United States Presidential appointee and trailblazing journalist), the Russellville community hosted a series of activities in Dunnigan's honor. The first activity included the Alice Allison Dunnigan Scholarship, Farm to Table Dinner on Aug. 1, 2019.

The dinner included locally sourced vegetables from the Russellville Urban Gardening Project located only blocks from the statue. The purpose of the dinner was to raise funds for the Alice Allison Dunnigan Scholarship.

Present at the dinner and keynote speaker of Saturday's event was award winning, Internationally known and accredited journalist with the AP, Sonya Ross. Also present, the first female African American Editor in Chief, Zirconia Alleyne, who had the prestigious duty of being the Moderator of the Unveiling of the Alice Allison Dunnigan Bronze Statue during the event on Saturday.

A significant donation was presented to the Dunnigan descendants by the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority's International Director, Deborah Catchings-Smith. Dunnigan died on May 6, in 1983 in Washington, D.C. Her great niece, Penny Allison Lockhart, is married to Franklin native the Rev. Michael Lockhart.

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