White House Conference Badge Worn By Ethel L. Payne

Object Details

plastic, metal
2 5/16 × 2 3/4 × 5/16 in. (5.9 × 7 × 0.8 cm)
Cite As
Ethel Lois Payne Collection, Anacostia Community Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Avis R. Johnson.
This shield-shaped badge admitted reporters to a planning session for the White House Conference on Civil Rights promised by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. In his commencement address at Howard University on June 4, he pledged to convene scholars, government officials, and civil rights activists so that African Americans could “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.” The first planning session took place in July 1965, culminating in a public planning session in November 1965. At the Washington Hilton, 240 leaders debated how to realize full equality for African Americans in a prelude to a conference that would draw 2,500 delegates from across the country in June 1966. The blue-and-white badge, punctuated by yellow embossed labels, is almost identical to two other badges in Ethel L. Payne’s collection of press passes and political pins. 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. The “DNC” and “Press” labels on the badge describe job duties that drew on her journalism experience, such as drafting news releases. 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.
Accession Number
press badge
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Anacostia Community Museum Collection
Data Source
Anacostia Community Museum
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