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Alice Allison Dunnigan: First Black Woman to Cover the White House



Her father was a sharecropper and her mother took in laundry. Her grandparents were born into slavery. She endured poverty, segregation and sexism. Yet none of these factors impeded her ambition to become a journalist.

Alice Allison Dunnigan (1906–1983) would become the first black woman accredited to cover the White House. But not all Americans were ready to accept her in this position; their actions would soon make that clear.

Dunnigan covered Congressional hearings during a time when racism in America was rampant and the N-word was commonly used on the floor. She was barred from reporting on a speech given by then-Pres. Dwight Eisenhower. Upon the death of Sen. Robert Taft (1953), Dunnigan wrote her report while sitting in the servants’ section.

Dubbed a “straight-shooter,” politicians went out of their way to avoid Dunnigan’s tough questions, which often involved race. During formal functions held at the White House, she was often mistaken for the wife of a visiting dignitary. A Black woman attending such events, and alone, was unimaginable.

Born in Logan County, Ky., Dunnigan had a natural talent for writing. She entered school at age four and was reading before first grade. At age 13, she became a reporter for the Black newspaper the Owensboro Enterprise. Her assignments were one-sentence news items.

The Russellville school system at that time only made education available to Black students for 10 years. On graduating high school, Dunnigan’s parents felt that encouraging their daughter to further her education wasn’t necessary.

But a Sunday school teacher who saw that Dunnigan had promise intervened. After some convincing, Dunnigan attended Kentucky Normal and Industrial Institute (now Kentucky State). She became a teacher (1924–1942), a profession she did enjoy, but it left her longing to write.

Teaching jobs at that time offered only meager pay. During summer breaks, Dunnigan worked for a white cemetery where she washed tombstones; worked in a dairy four hours each day; cleaned houses; and took in laundry. All this totaled about seven dollars a week. But a 1942 call for government workers would soon change the trajectory of Dunnigan’s life.

Dunnigan relocated to Wash., D.C., where she worked for the federal government. After a year of night classes at Howard University, she accepted the position of Washington correspondent for the Black-owned weekly newspaper the Chicago Defender. The editor initially offered Dunnigan less money than her male peers, reasoning that she had to prove herself and her worth to the paper.

The government at first denied Dunning’s request on the grounds that she was writing for a weekly newspaper; reporters covering the U.S. Capitol were required to write for dailies. She was granted clearance six months later, making her the first African-American woman to gain accreditation.

In 1947, Dunnigan was named bureau chief of the Associate Negro Press in Wash. D.C. For 14 years she filed stories printed in 112 African-American newspapers across the country, a door-opening experience for many who followed.

About Tamara Shiloh

Tamara Shiloh has published the first two books in her historical fiction chapter book series, Just Imagine…What If There Were No Black People in the World is about African American inventors, scientists and other notable Black people in history. The two books are Jaxon’s Magical Adventure with Black Inventors and Scientists and Jaxon and Kevin’s Black History Trip Downtown. Tamara Shiloh has also written a book a picture book for Scholastic, Cameron Teaches Black History, that will be available in June, 2022. Tamara Shiloh’s other writing experiences include: writing the Black History column for the Post Newspaper in the Bay area, Creator and Instruction of the black History Class for Educators a professional development class for teachers and her non-profit offers a free Black History literacy/STEM/Podcast class for kids 3d – 8th grade which also includes the Let’s Go Learn Reading and Essence and tutorial program.   She is also the owner of the Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts, in Richmond, California, Previously in her early life she was the /Editor-in-Chief of Desert Diamonds Magazine, highlighting the accomplishments of minority women in Nevada; assisting with the creation, design and writing of a Los Angeles-based, herbal magazine entitled Herbal Essence; editorial contribution to Homes of Color; Editor-in-Chief of Black Insight Magazine, the first digital, interactive magazine for African Americans; profile creations for sports figures on the now defunct; newsletters for various businesses and organizations; and her own Las Vegas community newsletter, Tween Time News, a monthly publication highlighting music entertainment in the various venues of Las Vegas. She is a member of:
  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
  • Richmond Chamber of Commerce
  • Point Richmond Business Association
  • National Association of Professional Women (NAPW)
  • Independent Book Publishers Association (IPBA)
  • California Writers Club-Berkeley & Marin
  • Richmond CA Kiwanis
  • Richmond CA Rotary
  • Bay Area Girls Club
Tamara Shiloh, a native of Northern California, has two adult children, one grandson and four great-grand sons. She resides in Point Richmond, CA with her husband, Ernest.

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Oakland Post: Week of May 24 – 30, 2023

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May 24 – 30, 2023



The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May 24 - 30, 2023

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Rise in Abductions of Black Girls in Oakland Alarms Sex-Trafficking Survivors

Nola Brantley of Nola Brantley Speaks states, “America’s wider culture and society has consistently failed to address the abduction and kidnapping of Black girls in Oakland and across the country, and this lack of concern empowers and emboldens predators.”



Nola Brantley and Sarai Smith-Mazariegos
Nola Brantley and Sarai Smith-Mazariegos

By Tanya Dennis

Within the last 30 days there have been seven attempted kidnappings or successful abductions of Black girls in Oakland.

Survivors of human trafficking who are now advocates are not surprised.

Nor were they surprised that the police didn’t respond, and parents of victims turned to African American community-based organizations like Adamika Village and Love Never Fails for help.

Advocates say Black and Brown girls disappear daily, usually without a blip on the screen for society and government officials.

Perhaps that will change with a proposed law by state Senator Steven Bradford’s Senate Bill 673 Ebony Alert, that, if passed, will alert people when Black people under the age of 26 go missing.

According to the bill, Black children are disproportionately classified as “runaways” in comparison to their white counterparts which means fewer resources are dedicated to finding them.

Nola Brantley of Nola Brantley Speaks states, “America’s wider culture and society has consistently failed to address the abduction and kidnapping of Black girls in Oakland and across the country, and this lack of concern empowers and emboldens predators.”

Brantley, a survivor of human trafficking has been doing the work to support child sex trafficking victims for over 20 years, first as the director for the Scotlan Youth and Family Center’s Parenting and Youth Enrichment Department at Oakland’s DeFremery Park, and as one of the co-founders and executive director of Motivating, Inspiring, Supporting and Serving Sexually Exploited Youth (MISSSEY, Inc.)

“It really hit home in 2010,” said Brantley, “before California’s Welfare Institution Code 300 was amended to include children victimized by sex trafficking.”

Before that law was amended, she had to vehemently advocate for Black and Brown girls under the age of 18 to be treated as victims rather than criminalized.

Brantley served hundreds of Black and Brown girls citing these girls were victims so they would be treated as such and offered restorative services. “To get the police to take their disappearances seriously and file a report almost never happened,” she said.

Then Brantley received a call from the Board of Supervisors regarding a “special case.”  A councilman was at the meeting, as well as a member of former Alameda County Board Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s Office who had called Brantley to attend.

“The child’s parents and the child were there also.  They requested that I give my full attention to this case.  The girl was white and there was no question of her victimization,” Brantley said.

Brantley felt conflicted that of all the hundreds of Black and Brown girls she’d served, none had ever received this type of treatment.

Her eyes were opened that day on how “they” move, therefore with the recent escalation of kidnapping attempts of Black girls, Brantley fears that because it’s happening to Black girls the response will not be taken seriously.

Councilmember Treva Reid

Councilwoman Treva Reid

“I thank Councilwoman Treva Reid and Senator Steven Bradford (D) for pushing for the passing of the Ebony Alert Bill across the state so that the disappearance of Black girls will be elevated the same as white girls. We’ve never had a time when Black girls weren’t missing.  Before, it didn’t matter if we reported it or if the parents reported the police failed to care.”

Senator Steven Bradford

Senator Steven Bradford

Sarai S-Mazariegos, co-founder of M.I.S.S.S.E.Y, and founder and executive director of Survivors Healing, Advising and Dedicated to Empowerment (S.H.A.D.E.) agrees with Brantley.

“What we are experiencing is the effects of COVID-19, poverty and a regressive law that has sentence the most vulnerable to the sex trade,” S-Mazariegos said. “We are seeing the lack of equity in the community, the cause and consequence of gender inequality and a violation of our basic human rights. What we are seeing is sexual exploitation at its finest.”

Both advocates are encouraged by Bradford’s Ebony Alert.

The racism and inequity cited has resulted in the development of an underground support system by Brantley, S-Mazariegos and other community-based organizations who have united to demand change.

Thus far they are receiving support from Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price, Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, and Oakland City Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas and Reid of the second and seventh districts respectively.

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Oakland Post: Week of May 17 – 23, 2023

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May 17 – 23 2023



The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of May 17 - 23, 2023

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