Efforts underway to put statues of Ky. journalist Alice Dunnigan in State, U.S. Capitol Buildings

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 3:24 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Efforts are being made in the Kentucky State Capitol to honor Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first African American Journalist to cover the White House.

Republican Senator Alice Forgy Kerr is heading up a resolution to have a statue erected of Dunnigan in the State Rotunda and Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.

We asked Sen. Forgy Kerr why is she leading this effort and she says because it hits close to home, literally and figuratively.

“Alice Allison Dunnigan was a young woman, was born actually in my home county of Logan County,” Sen. Forgy Kerr said.

Dunnigan was born in 1906 the granddaughter of slaves and the daughter of a sharecropper. By the age of 13, Dunnigan was writing articles for the Owensboro Enterprise Newspaper.

She was a teacher, author and civil rights advocate.

Later in life, she moved to Washington, D. C. where she wanted to report on the White House. After denials and six months of trying, Dunnigan became the first African American Woman to cover the White House in 1947.

A position she held for 14 years.

Journalism allowed Dunnigan to travel and report on several presidents like Truman and Eisenhower while she endured segregation. In 1960, she campaigned for Lyndon B. Johnson.

Now, Sen. Forgy Kerr is introducing a resolution to honor Dunningan’s achievements with her own life-sized statue in Statutory Hall located inside the nation’s Capitol Building, as well as one in the State’s rotunda.

“I think it’s very important,” Sen. Forgy Kerr said. “Yeah, we have a woman of color and such a distinction to be honored in this way.”

A statue honoring her is nothing new, there’s already one in her hometown of Russellville.

Efforts are being made in the Kentucky State Capitol to honor Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first...
Efforts are being made in the Kentucky State Capitol to honor Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first African American journalist to cover the White House.(WKYT)

Local historian Micheal Murrow has completed 30 years of research on his hometown reporter.

We asked Murrow if the resolution goes through, would she fit in with the likes of President Lincoln Henry Clay Doctor Ephraim McDowell and Vice President Barkley in the State Rotunda?

“Oh, definitely she belongs in the good old boys club,” Murrow said. “So, it’s time to let some good old girls in and we want to let people in we have made a contribution a positive contribution to our nation. So, yeah, she definitely deserves to be there.

There’s an open space for her spot, ironically left open by the removal of the statue of the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis.

“It would be a marvelous thing if Allison who grew up down the road from Jefferson Davis could go in there, like I said, not to replace him, but it would write a lot of wrongs,” Murrow said

Two representatives from Kentucky are in Statutory Hall, Henry Clay and Dr. McDowell.

Word is Dr. McDowell would be replaced by Dunningan’s statue.

Sen. Forgy Kerr believes it’s the right move for women, African Americans and Kentucky.

“She is the epitome of Black History. Alice is the epitome of Black History,” Sen. Forgy Kerr said.

The resolution will be read this week in a Senate Committee meeting. Sen. Forgy Kerr hopes the Alice Dunnigan statue can be up by next year.

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