The Power of Her Pen: The Story of Groundbreaking Journalist Ethel L. Payne

Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by John Parra. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6289-1
Chances were few for young women of color around the Great Depression, but when Ethel L. Payne’s (1911–1991) Chicago high school wouldn’t let a black student work on its newspaper, she got it to publish her first story; then, during college, she took writing classes at a local school that offered free tuition. After organizing locally during WWII, she seized the opportunity to become a correspondent in Tokyo and found herself with sudden global influence: “One of Ethel’s articles about black soldiers stationed in Japan had made its way across the seas.” After several years writing for the Chicago Defender, a black newspaper, she was issued White House press credentials and served through four administrations. “I’ve had a box seat on history,” she said, “and that’s a rare thing.” Folk-style portraits by Parra couple maturing images of Payne with historical emblems, and Cline-Ransome tells her story with economy and drive. “Somebody had to do the fighting,” she quotes Payne saying, “somebody had to speak up.” An author’s note and bibliography conclude. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/14/2019
Release date: 01/01/2020
Genre: Children's
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