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Wilbert H. Ahern

John Quincy Adams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, the son of Henry Adams, a prominent minister and educator, and Margaret Corbin. Both his parents were free persons of color. Following private schooling in Wisconsin and Ohio, Adams graduated from Oberlin College. After a brief teaching stint in Louisville, in 1870 he followed his uncle, Joseph C. Corbin, to work in Arkansas in the Reconstruction. By 1874 he had risen from schoolteacher to assistant superintendent of public instruction. His lifelong activism in the Republican Party began in Arkansas; there he twice served as secretary to Republican state conventions, was elected as justice of the peace on the party ticket, and held the offices of engrossing clerk of the state senate and deputy commissioner of public works. The defeat of the Arkansas Republican Party in 1874 and the racial repression that followed led Adams to return ...

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Linda Allen Bryant

editor and publisher, was born in Peoria, Illinois, to Dr. Cecil Bruce Ford and Florence Henderson Ford. She was the granddaughter of Major George Ford and a great-great-granddaughter of West Ford, who may have been the African American son of George Washington. Cecil Bruce Ford, a graduate of Meharry Medical College, was Peoria's first African American dentist, while Elise's mother, Florence, was a well-known seamstress. Elise Ford was baptized at the age of three at Bethel Methodist Church and attended the Peoria public school system with her siblings Bruce, Florence, and Harrison. Later Ford acted as her grandfather's secretary when he was the president of the Springfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and wrote his correspondence as his eyesight failed in his later years.

The Ford oral history, which held that she was the three-times great-granddaughter of George ...

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Rami Ginat

Egyptian journalist, novelist, scriptwriter, publisher, and politician, was born in Cairo on 21 February 1914. He said, “When I hold my pen I feel that I hug the most beautiful woman in the world; I have therefore lived a long love-story. I cannot imagine myself live a single day without my pen … When I pass away I ask to lay my pen next to me in my tomb since I may need it when I write a journalistic research story about the resurrection day” (Mustafa, p. 6). Mustafa Amin, or al-Ustadh the teacher as he was often referred to by his colleagues and followers was one of Egypt s most eminent journalists of the twentieth century Many in the Arab world have regarded him as the father of Arab journalism His pen Mustafa Amin kept reminding his readers was mightier than the dictator s sword a reference ...

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Joy Gleason Carew

civil rights lawyer, community activist, editor, and publisher, was born in Winston, North Carolina, the sixth and last son of nine children of Simon Green and Oleona Pegram Atkins. His father was the founder and first president of the Slater Industrial Academy, later known as Winston‐Salem State University. Atkins graduated from the Slater Academy in 1915 and then went to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating magna cum laude in chemistry in 1919.

When Atkins obtained his LLB cum laude at Yale University in 1922, he was the first African American to graduate with honors from that institution. While there, Atkins was a member of the debate team and served as a monitor of the Yale Law Library, where he oversaw the indexing of thirty‐one volumes of the Yale Law Journal. In 1921 he was the first African American elected to the editorial board of the Yale ...

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Jerry Gershenhorn

journalist, was born in Enfield, North Carolina, the year of the infamous Wilmington Race Massacre. His parents were William Louis Austin, owner of a barbershop, and Carrie Johnson. Louis Austin graduated from the Joseph K. Brick High School. His father, who never let any of his children work for whites, taught him in word and deed that no person was superior to him.

In Durham, Austin attended and graduated from the National Training School (later North Carolina Central University), which had been founded in 1910 by James E. Shepard. Following graduation Austin sold life insurance for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, founded in Durham in 1898 by black entrepreneurs. Austin also served as sports editor for Durham's black newspaper, the Standard Advertiser, founded in 1921 by Charles Arrant. In 1927 with the help of a loan from the Mutual affiliate Mechanics and ...

Article

David A. Spatz

attorney and journalist. Ferdinand Lee Barnett was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1859. His father, born a slave, purchased his freedom and worked much of his life as a blacksmith. The family moved to Canada soon after Ferdinand was born and then to Chicago in 1869. Barnett was educated in Chicago schools, graduating from high school in 1874 with high honors. After teaching in the South for two years, he returned to Chicago and attended Chicago College of Law, later affiliated with Northwestern Law School.

Barnett graduated from law school and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1878. Rather than immediately practicing law, he founded the Conservator, Chicago's first African American newspaper. The Conservator was a radical voice for justice and racial solidarity as means to equal rights for African Americans. The Conservator also drew national attention to Barnett He served as Chicago ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

journalist, activist, and vice presidential candidate, was born Charlotta Amanda Spears in Sumter, South Carolina, the sixth of eleven children of Hiram Spears and Kate (maiden name unknown). The details of her childhood are unknown, but sometime before her twentieth birthday she went to live with her brother in Providence, Rhode Island, and began work at the Providence Watchman, selling ads and helping in the office. After ten years, suffering from exhaustion, she went for a rest to California on the advice of her doctor.

At the beginning of what was to have been a two-year stay, Spears went against her doctor's orders and took a job at the Eagle, a newspaper with a largely black readership. Her job was to sell advertising and subscriptions. However, when the newspaper's editor, John Neimore became ill he began to turn the operations of the Eagle over to ...

Article

John H. McClendon

journalist, editor, business owner, civil rights leader, community activist, feminist, and political candidate. In 1952, she became the first African American woman to run for the vice presidency of the United States. There are conflicting reports about Bass's date and place of birth and scant information about her life prior to coming to Los Angeles. Some sources report that she was born as early as 1874/1875, while others estimate the year of her birth was somewhere in the vicinity of 1879/1880. Likewise, the place of her birth is open to speculation and some references are made to Sumter, South Carolina, while other sources indicate Little Compton, Rhode Island. The historian Gerald Gill points out that Bass played no small role in complicating the facts around the actual date and place of her birth.

The historical record ...

Article

Charlotta Bass, born in South Carolina, was the sixth of eleven children of Hiram and Kate Spears. At the age of twenty, she left South Carolina to live with an older brother in Providence, Rhode Island, where she worked for ten years at a local newspaper. Suffering exhaustion, she moved to Los Angeles, California, to recuperate but soon ran out of money and began collecting subscriptions for the Eagle, the oldest black newspaper on the West Coast.

By 1912 she was the newspaper's managing editor. She renamed it the California Eagle and transformed it into a tool for publicizing and attacking racial discrimination. In 1912 she also met her future husband, John Bass, who had founded the Topeka Plaindealer and who had recently been named editor of the California Eagle.

The Basses won widespread attention for their assault on The Birth of a Nation ...

Article

Norah C. Chase

Bass, Charlotta Spears ( October 1880?–12 April 1969), editor and civil rights activist, was born in Sumter, South Carolina, the daughter of Hiram Spears and Kate (maiden name unknown). Before 1900 she joined her oldest brother (one of her ten siblings) in Rhode Island and worked for a newspaper. In 1910 she went to Los Angeles, California, for her health. She remained in Los Angeles except for a brief stay in New York City. She took journalism courses at Brown University, Columbia University, and the University of California at Los Angeles.

She worked for the Eagle in Los Angeles, the oldest African-American newspaper on the West Coast. It was edited by John Neimore, who soon had Bass running the paper. After Neimore’s death, Captain Hawkins paid fifty dollars in 1912 to own the Eagle and gave Bass ownership in return for a promise of payment She changed ...

Article

Kathleen Thompson

In 1952, the candidates committee of the Progressive Party offered a slate of peace candidates, as a new hope to Americans sick and tired of corruption, militarism, segregation of and discrimination against the Negro people, and the growing unemployment that had been brought about by both Democrats and Republicans. One of the candidates offered was Charlotta Spears Bass, the first black woman to run for vice president of the United States.

Charlotta Spears was born in Sumter, South Carolina, to Hiram and Kate Spears. She was the sixth of eleven children. Very little is known of her childhood, but by the time she was twenty she had gone to live with her brother in Providence, Rhode Island, and had begun working at the Providence Watchman She sold ads and helped in the office at this local newspaper and at the end of ten years was suffering ...

Article

Philip M. Montesano

Philip Alexander Bell was born in New York City, the third of three children, to Alexander Bell and Letty (maiden name unknown). A stutterer, the young Bell turned to writing to express himself, honing his natural talents under the teachers at New York City's African Free School, an institution respected for such alumni as Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge and Episcopal priest and pan-Africanist Alexander Crummell. After finishing school, Bell set out to make journalism his life's work, hoping to use the press as a way to improve life for blacks.

On January 25, 1831, Bell attended a meeting of the Colored Citizens of New York at the Boyer Lodge Room. The meeting's attendees rejected the idea of black colonization in Liberia West Africa a plan of the American Colonization Society saying that blacks absolutely claimed this country the place of our birth and not Africa as ...

Article

Philip M. Montesano

newspaper editor and civil rights activist, was born in New York City, the third of three children, to Alexander Bell and Letty (maiden name unknown). A stutterer, the young Bell turned to writing to express himself, honing his natural talents under the teachers at New York City's African Free School, an institution respected for such alumni as the Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge and the Episcopal priest and Pan-Africanist Alexander Crummell. After finishing school, Bell set out to make journalism his life's work, hoping to use the press to advance black interests.

On 25 January 1831 Bell attended a meeting of the Colored Citizens of New York at the Boyer Lodge Room The meeting s attendees rejected the idea of black colonization in Liberia West Africa a plan of the American Colonization Society saying that blacks absolutely claimed this country the place of our birth and not Africa ...

Article

Delano Greenidge-Copprue

Bell was born in New York City and educated at the African Free Schools in New York. He rose to national prominence on 25 January 1831, as secretary for a group of black New Yorkers protesting colonization.

Bell's reform work took place on the local and national levels, with an emphasis on black enfranchisement. As a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, he served as subscription agent for William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist newspaper, the Liberator. In addition, Bell advocated the organization of African American self-help programs and opposed segregation in churches and schools. He helped promote the National Negro Conventions of the 1830s and served as the New York delegate at three conventions. As director of the Phoenix Society, he promoted education for African Americans, and as a leader of the New York Political Association, Bell agitated for black suffrage and political rights.

Newspapers helped Bell spread ...

Article

Thomas Adams Upchurch

One of the most polarizing political figures in American history, James Gillespie Blaine, “the Plumed Knight of Maine,” was the most prominent presidential candidate of the late nineteenth century never to be elected. His chameleon-like character kept him at the top of the Republican Party machinery during both Reconstruction and the Gilded Age. He supported the Union during the Civil War and the Radical cause in the late 1860s, took a conciliatory view of the southern question in the early 1870s, and ultimately all but abandoned the African American civil rights agenda in the late 1870s and thereafter. As much as any other Republican, he influenced the course of the party in selling out African Americans after Reconstruction for the joint benefits of sectional reconciliation and national business interests. He did so, however, without necessarily alienating black voters or friends. Frederick Douglass for instance supported him throughout his career ...

Article

Stephen Eschenbach

politician, journalist, and Negro League professional baseball pitcher, was born in Charlottesville, Virginia, one of four children. His father was a Baptist minister and his mother was a nurse. His mother wanted him to pursue medicine, but Brown was interested in sports and studying social problems. After preparing at Howard Academy in Washington, D.C., Brown went to Harvard.

Brown majored in economics but also played baseball, lettering as a left-handed pitcher. He worked his way through Harvard as a janitor and waiter. During summer breaks he was a Red Cap at Grand Central Station in New York, and also played in the Negro Leagues. In 1923 and 1924 he pitched for the New York Lincoln Giants Interestingly Harvard usually aggressive about enforcing early NCAA rules barring athletes from playing professional sports apparently did not punish Brown when he played in the professional ranks before returning to the Harvard baseball ...

Article

Carl Moneyhon

John Edward Bush was born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee. In 1862 his master moved him and his mother to Arkansas to keep them from being freed when the Union army moved into western Tennessee. His mother died when Bush was only seven years old. He was educated in the freedmen's and public schools of Little Rock and was considered a good student by his teachers. He paid his school tuition by molding bricks. In 1876 he graduated from high school with honors and was immediately appointed principal of Capital Hill School, a public institution for African Americans in Little Rock. In 1878 he moved to Hot Springs, where he was named to head that city's African American high school.

In 1879 Bush returned to Little Rock, where he married Cora Winfrey, the daughter of a wealthy African American contractor, Solomon Winfrey The couple had four children ...

Article

Kimberley Mangun

editor and civil rights activist, was born Beatrice Hulon Morrow in Littig, Texas. She was one of the fourteen children of George Morrow, a farmer, and Mary Francis Carter. Little is known about Cannady's childhood, but she reputedly graduated from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, in 1908. She taught briefly in Louisiana and Oklahoma, though her passion was voice and piano, which she studied at the University of Chicago in the summer of 1908 and 1909.

Her decision to leave Illinois in the spring of 1912 and move to Portland, Oregon—a city with just one thousand African Americans—was inspired by a long-distance relationship with Edward Cannady, a “hat-check man” at the elegant Portland Hotel and a cofounder of The Advocate, a newspaper founded in 1903 for African Americans She abandoned her dream of becoming an opera singer cashed in her return train ticket ...

Article

Aldeen L. Davis

Alexander G. Clark was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. His father, John Clark, had been freed by his Irish master; his mother, Rebecca (Darnes) Clark, was said to have been a full-blooded African. Alexander received a limited education in Washington County and in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was sent in 1839 to live with an uncle. He learned barbering, worked as a bartender on the steamer George Washington, and in May 1842 went to Muscatine, Iowa, where he opened a barbershop. He later contracted with steamboats to supply them with wood. Investing his money wisely, he purchased real estate and became a wealthy man. He devoted most of the rest of his life to the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), Prince Hall Masonry, the Republican Party, civil rights movements, and the Chicago Conservator which he edited He graduated from the University of Iowa Law ...

Article

Alexandra Vega-Merino

Jesús Colón was born in 1901 in Cayey, a rural town near San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a 1917 editorial, which expressed a view that remained consistent through much of his professional life, he wrote about the capacity of words to transform society. A few months later he arrived in New York, New York, where he spent the rest of his life. There, he held multiple menial jobs, such as waiting tables and washing dishes. In 1918 he became a founding member of the Puerto Rican Committee of the Socialist Party; in the following decades he became a relentless organizer of other political and cultural groups. One year after his 1922 graduation from Boys High Evening School, he started writing for Justicia, the newspaper of the Puerto Rican Free Federation of Workers. Regular columns in publications such as Gráfico and the Daily Worker followed.

Colón s essays ...