Nelly Rouzroch on Ethel L. Payne

“I am an instrument of change.”

Student journalist Nelly Rouzroch tells the story of the woman who inspires her most, journalist Ethel L Payne, the first Black female in the White House Press Corps. Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press”, Ethel L Payne was respected for asking tough questions and, in fact, was catapulted to fame when she angered President Eisenhower by putting him on the spot about Civil Rights. Ethel L Payne was an early proponent of advocacy journalism, believing she was “an instrument of change.” Nelly relates Ethel’s path to her ground-breaking career as well as her legacy. Ask the tough questions! Our storytellers share these astonishing women with us conversationally and unscripted; we fact-check afterwards and note any major discrepancies for accuracy.


Nelly Rouzroch

Nelly is a Perisan-Jew originally from Los Angeles, California. Nelly is finishing up her last year at Chapman University as a double major in Strategic & Corporate Communication as well as Psychology. She served on the university’s student government association as the School of Communication Senator.

Featured Woman

Ethel L. Payne

Ethel L. Payne, the “First Lady of the Black Press”, was a fearless reporter, lecturer and freelance writer who combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the Civil Rights Movement, the Viet Nam War and other monumental stories of the day. She worked for the Chicago Public Defender becoming the paper’s Washington correspondent, the first Black woman to be included in the White House Press Corps. Payne went on to become the first Black female commentator for a national network when CBS hired her in 1972, and was one of four journalists to be honored with a U.S. Postage Stamp. Born in 1911, the granddaughter of enslaved people, Ethel L Payne broke barriers and was known for asking questions other journalists avoided. Her belief was, “I am the instrument of change.”