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Alone atop the Hill

The Autobiography of Alice Dunnigan

Cove Point is getting attention for more than its great views, good fishing or the controversial topic of natural gas import and export.
    Thanks to Carol McCabe Booker — a Cove Point resident for three decades — the bump in the Bay in southern Calvert County is becoming a research center on black journalism pioneers.
    First McCabe Booker, a lawyer and journalist, partnered with husband Simeon Booker on his autobiography Shocking the Conscience, a black journalist’s first-hand account of the civil rights movement.
    Now McCabe Booker has edited the autobiography of Alice Dunnigan, an equally persevering journalist who began life as sharecropper’s daughter in Kentucky.
    Simeon Booker and Dunnigan were colleagues; McCabe Booker discovered her posthumously in 2013, when Dunnigan and Simeon were both inducted into the Black Journalist Hall of Fame.
    Dunnigan’s was a story worth telling. She was credited with having done more to keep black Americans informed about civil rights than any other journalist between 1947 and 1961, when she wrote for more than 112 black newspapers across the country.
    McCabe Booker thought Dunnigan had a story worth telling.
    “When I read [her memoir] in the Library of Congress, I had two reactions: One was that Dunnigan’s was a fascinating and often riveting story; the other was that its unavailability to a new generation of readers, researchers, teachers and historians was a shameful and ­tragic loss,” Booker said.
    It is a great story. Reading the 224-page book just published by University of Georgia Press, I grew as I traveled alongside Dunnigan.
    McCabe Booker’s annotated edit puts you smack-dab in the moment alongside Dunnigan and moves you smoothly and swiftly through her two-part journey.
    First, you travel through the early years — told bluntly and simply in Dunnigan’s own words — and learn about life in a border state in the first half of the 20th century.
    Then, in a great, new world, Dunnigan rose from a World War II typist to reporter and ultimately to the first black female reporter accredited to the White House and authorized to travel with a U.S. president.
    Black and white photos help carry you back in time.
    Her lesson is timeless.
    “Dunnigan’s potential to inspire a new generation of women, especially anyone facing educational or career challenges, was Alice’s goal in life as well as in writing her memoir,” Booker said.

Meet McCabe Booker at a book talk Monday March 30, 7pm: Prince Frederick Library: 410-535-0291.