Pushing Through Barriers of Race and Gender
Journalist Alice Allison Dunnigan, a Russellville native, rose above the limitations of segregation and became the first female African-American to be admitted to the White House, Congressional and Supreme Court press corps. Her legacy is honored in a park dedicated to the civil rights struggle and through an exhibit in the adjacent SEEK Museum that chronicles her achievements over four decades in the advancement of civil rights.
The park’s centerpiece is a bronze statue of Dunnigan, erected in 2019. It welcomes visitors to the museum where they can learn more about the woman who became a nationally recognized pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement, writing stories for the Associated Negro Press from the point of view of an African-American woman and regularly attending events at the White House.
The Dunnigan exhibit is housed in one of six restored historic buildings, originally constructed between 1815 and 1945, that tell the region’s history of slavery, emancipation, racial violence, segregation and the fight for civil rights. An archival and research facility allows visitors to explore their genealogy and cultural heritage.
Also in Russellville is a restored Rosenwald school, the jail from which innocent African-Americans were abducted and taken away to be lynched, and the old courthouse where Dunnigan was not allowed to use the “whites only” restroom.