Tammy Gibson, Contributing Writer
October 8, 2021
Ethel L. Payne had a front seat in history. Known as the First Lady of the Black Press, Payne’s career as a ground-breaking journalist and civil rights activist paved the way for future black journalists. With all of Payne’s accomplishments, contributions, and breaking racial barriers in journalism, she is an unsung hero who has been forgotten and obsolete.
Twenty miles south from Payne’s childhood home in the Englewood neighborhood, she is buried in an unmarked grave at Mt. Glenwood Memory Gardens South. Payne cared for her community and touched the lives of many people that led to lifelong friendships. Marianne Jordan, a Hazel Crest resident, met Ethel Payne at the First International Woman’s Year Conference in 1975 in Mexico City. Jordan was an Illinois delegate and remembered her first encounter with Payne, who was covering the conference. “I sat next to Ethel Payne at the conference. She was always warm and special. Ethel loved talking to people. I was overwhelmed because she was there, and I was sitting next to her, having a conversation. I loved Ethel. She was a special person, and I miss her dearly,” says Jordan.