On today’s show our guest is James McGrath Morris, author of Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press (Amistad/HarperCollins, February 2015). Payne was one of the first African-American women journalists, and her heyday was in the 1950s and 1960s. Before she even got into journalism professionally, Payne was an activist in the civil rights movement, forcing her way into a leadership role even when the men tried to dismiss her. She took that gutsiness with her throughout her life—from asking controversial questions at White House press conferences while reporting for the Chicago Defender, to covering apartheid in South Africa, to showing up for the signing of the Voting Rights Act. Even though she blazed a trail for black women in her field, Payne is largely forgotten today, and biographer Morris explores why. Later in the hour, contributing editor Emma Bryce talks about the scientist experimenting with fake blood to curb the spread of disease via mosquitoes.

Music this hour: