January 25, 1916|
Elizabeth City, North Carolina, United States
|Died||April 28, 2010
Manhattan, New York, United States
|Other names||"Big East"; "The Lynching Editor"|
|Known for||Civil rights reporting|
Evelyn Cunningham (January 25, 1916 – April 28, 2010) was an American journalist and aide to Nelson Rockefeller. Cunningham covered the early civil rights movement and was a reporter and editor for the Pittsburgh Courier. Cunningham and the paper's staff were awarded the George Polk Award in 1998 for their coverage.
Evelyn Cunningham was born Evelyn Elizabeth Long in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, one of two children of a taxicab driver and a dressmaker. The family moved to New York City when Evelyn was a child; she was educated in city schools and graduated from Hunter College High School in 1934 and from Long Island University in 1943, earning a bachelor's degree.
The largest black newsweekly at the time, the Pittsburgh Courier was an influential presence during and in the years preceding the civil rights movement. Cunningham joined the Courier in 1940 working from the Harlem office at 125th street. She earned the nickname the "lynching editor" due to her extensive coverage of lynchings in the deep south. While at the Courier she attempted to interview Bull Connor, in Birmingham, Alabama, but he denied her, with a racial epithet.
Work as political aide; later career
After leaving the Courier, in 1962, Cunningham hosted a radio show of her own on WLIB in New York. She then joined Nelson Rockefeller in 1965 as a special assistant to the then governor. She maintained this title in Washington during his vice presidency. She also served on Nixon's Task Force on Women's Rights and Responsibilities.
In 1970, Cunningham was one of the founders of the New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women, a non-profit organization dedicated to bettering the lives of black women "and their families through implementing initiatives and services to address important social, political, economical [and] cultural issues." 
In the 2000s, Cunningham was appointed to the New York City Commission on Women's Issues by Michael Bloomberg.
Tall—almost six feet tall in heels—and with red hair, Cunningham was called "Big East," referring both to her height and her New York City background. A dedicated career woman who once expressed the opinion that "marriage isn't much good for a career woman", nevertheless she married four times. Her last marriage was to Austin H. Brown, who died in 2003. A Juilliard-trained pianist, he was also the first African-American master watchmaker in New York's Diamond District.
She had one brother, Clyde Whitehurst Long, who died in 1973, leaving a daughter, who Evelyn raised. She also had two step-daughters from Austin's previous marriage which also gave her 2 grandchildren.
- The Associated Press, "Evelyn Cunningham, Journalist and Aide, Dies at 94", The New York Times, April 29, 2010, available online.
- Clem Richardson, "Well-versed journalist Evelyn Cunningham writing piece on 'unknown black history'", New York Daily News, November 23, 2009.
- "Evelyn Cunningham, National Visionary," as found at http://www.visionaryproject.org/cunninghamevelyn
- Joyce Wadler, ""Public Lives: Still Fighting the Battle of the Sexes," New York Times, April 15, 1998