Capital Press Club
The Capital Press Club was founded in 1944 by Alfred E. Smith, a columnist for the Chicago Defender, because the National Press Club did not accept black journalists (or women) as members. Had those journalists been accepted, as Wallace Terry wrote in 1963, he believed the Capital Press Club would have been formed anyway due to the increasing concern over the very important unfinished business of American democracy—civil rights and equal opportunity.
Wallace Terry was the president of the Capital Press Club for an unprecedented three years—from 1962 to 1965—and at 25, he was the youngest president of any organization of journalists. The yearly banquets were festive events which brought civil rights leaders, political VIPs, international dignitaries, diplomats, celebrity journalists, and Hollywood icons together for the first time in the Club’s history.
At the first banquet in May of 1963 President John F. Kennedy telegrammed his best wishes and Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the birth of the Terrys’ first child. The annual press institute welcomed renowned journalists such as Lerone Bennett, Herblock, Murray Kempton, C. Sumner “Chuck” Stone and Robert Novak to the Club’s rostrum. Luminaries in the political and editorial world—Sargent Shriver, Art Buchwald, Myrlie Evers and Walter Cronkite—and celebrity activists—Dick Gregory, Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, Abbey Lincoln and Ossie Davis—brought their star power to the cause for scholarships for young black journalists and for equal rights for African Americans.
Included here are excerpts from Wallace Terry’s greetings from each of the commemorative programs, and a photograph gallery of those celebratory events.