The Statue I Celebrate


Kernel Opinion SIG

Sarah Ladd

The New York Times reported Thursday that Alice Dunnigan, the first African-American woman to cover the White House, will get a 6-foot statue at the Newseum, a Washington museum that celebrates the press and the First Amendment of our constitution.  

Statues have been in the news a lot lately, and there is a lot of controversy surrounding the removal of Confederate statues across the country. One side of the argument has said the removal of these statues is an effort to erase history, while others said that statues are meant to be a signal of celebration, not historical reference.

Without digging too much into this controversy, today I am celebrating the fact that a statue is being erected to honor a person who not only endured, as the New York Times article claimed, “poverty, segregation and sexism”, but someone who advocated for the free press as a check on the powers that be.

Dunnigan, the article reported, was from Russellville, Kentucky, and worked hard on her way to the White House. She was the first African-American woman to report on Congress, the State Department and the Supreme Court, and she traveled with then-president Harry S. Truman on his “whistle stop” campaign tour in 1948.

As a Kentucky native, Dunnigan should be a role model for not only journalism students at UK, but every one of us. She epitomized perseverance, passion and the difference journalists can make in this country through her advocacy of civil rights and black equality.

Dunnigan’s statue comes at a time when journalists are being challenged in our nation and the relevance of statues debated. Her statue should serve as a reminder to all of us of that the importance of the press and the difference we can make if we never give up on our dreams. Her statue is one I will proudly celebrate.