Book club welcomes biographer for Black History Month

Newsletter Report

Readers in Southern New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley are honoring Black History Month with the Zoom return of biographer James McGrath Morris, the club said in a press release. Morris will talk about her book, “Eye On the Struggle – Ethel Payne, The First Lady of the Black Press,” during a Zoom presentation beginning at 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 24.

The presentation is free and open to the public. Email [email protected] for a Zoom invite.

Morris’ biography “sheds light on the life and accomplishments of pioneering journalist Ethel Lois Payne and pays tribute to the critical role of the black press in the civil rights era,” according to

“A self-proclaimed ‘instrument of change,’ Payne publicly pushed President Dwight D. Eisenhower to support desegregation,” the website said. “From Alabama to Vietnam, from Indonesia to Ghana, her reporting on legislative and court battles for civil rights has enlightened and motivated black readers, for whom she has served as an eyewitness on the front lines of the struggle for freedom. At great personal risk, Payne covered such landmark events as the Montgomery bus boycott, the desegregation of the University of Alabama, the integration of Little Rock schools, and the service of black troops in Vietnam. A pioneering black woman in an industry dominated by white men, Payne also broke the glass ceiling, becoming the first African-American woman radio and television commentator on a national network, working for CBS.

Morris’ next book, “Tony Hillerman: A Life,” will be published in October.

Morris lives in Santa Fe.


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