January 13, 2016

1970. Downs Resigns from the National Press Club

The National Press Club Votes to Admit Women
Bill Downs' membership card for the National Press Club
Bill Downs resigned from the National Press Club in 1970 over its refusal to admit women. Months later the NPC voted 227 to 56 to reverse this policy.
October 29, 1970

Board of Governors
National Press Club
National Press Club Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20004


It is with deep regret and after more than 20 years of membership that I feel compelled to submit my resignation to the National Press Club.

The parliamentary thwarting of the will of the more than two-to-one majority who voted to integrate women news personnel into the NPC seems to me to repudiate the concept of "National" in the organization's name. Additionally, the sometimes overt resistance of the same segregationist minority to the admission of black newsman into the club is regrettable—if indeed it is not illegal.

I have considered the argument that my views would be more effective if I retained my membership and fought for these principles within the organization.

I rejected the suggestion for two reasons: I have no desire to engage in polemics with old friends whose minds and attitudes are as determined as my own; secondly, my resignation is a feeble gesture, I realize, but hopefully the impact psychologically and financially will be greater than anything else I could do.

Bill Downs

Membership card attached. When officially accepted please bill me for Oct. dues.
November 12, 1970

Mr. Bill Downs
American Broadcasting Company
1124 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036

Dear Mr. Downs:

With sincere regret I read your request to resign from the National Press Club.

Your wish in this matter is honored. Although, I really hope that the reason for your decision may allow you to reconsider.

Otherwise, please bear in mind that you are always welcome to request reinstatement.

I know how I would feel should I ever face the situation that I would need to consider resignation from the greatest Press Club in the world.

If there is anything that we can do please let us know.

The National Press Club is a great institution, and its members do not want to lose your association with it. I personally share this feeling.

Sincerely yours,
Michael Hudoba

(Handwritten: Please reconsider—I fully expect a passable vote to admit at the annual meeting January 15, 1971)
February 4, 1971

Dear Mr. Downs:

Your letter of resignation was held in abeyance pending the annual meeting of January 15th. Inasmuch as the constitution and by-laws were changed at that time, we would like to have you reconsider and remain a member of The National Press Club. May we hear from you about withdrawing your resignation?

M. Rupert Welch