White House Conference Badge Worn By Ethel L. Payne

Object Details

plastic, metal
2 5/16 × 2 3/4 × 1/2 in. (5.8 × 7 × 1.2 cm)
Cite As
Ethel Lois Payne Collection, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Avis R. Johnson.
Ethel L. Payne (1911-1991) wore this shield-shaped badge to a planning session for the White House Conference on Civil Rights in 1965. In President Lyndon B. Johnson’s commencement address at Howard University on June 4, 1965, he promised a conference that would convene scholars, government officials, and civil rights leaders in order for African Americans to “fulfill the rights, which, after the long time of injustice, he [sic] is finally about to secure.” The historic speech became known by the same name as the conference, “To Fulfill These Rights,” which occurred one year later, on June 1-2, 1966. The badge is almost identical to two others in the Anacostia Community Museum’s collection, possibly reflecting Payne’s presence at several planning sessions, which began in July 1965 and culminated in a public planning session in November 1965, the original date for the conference. At the Washington Hilton, Payne observed 240 leaders debating how to realize full equality for African Americans, a prelude to the conference that would draw 2,500 delegates from across the country in June 1966. Though best known as the First Lady of the Black Press for her remarkable reporting, Payne (1911-1991) worked for the Democratic National Committee at the time. Her role as assistant to the vice chair also included traveling around the country and giving speeches to mobilize voters, especially African American women. The conference and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were among the Johnson administration’s responses to demands by activists marching earlier in the year, including across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the infamous “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama. President Johnson recognized Payne’s contribution to fulfilling African Americans’ voting rights by presenting her with a ceremonial pen that he used to sign the Voting Rights Act of 1965, also in the Anacostia Community Museum’s collection.
Accession Number
press badge
See more items in
Anacostia Community Museum Collection
Data Source
Anacostia Community Museum
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Record ID
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