An organ for protest : the Negro press
Just start our discussion. I would like to ask you perhaps about what function the Negro press has served in the past. Has it been just a supplement to the white press or has it tried to cover the entire spectrum of news coverage it was possible by then because resources or whatever else whether qualified reporters in the past and then perhaps we can move on to the present situation. Mr. Fuller. Well historically. The Negro press developed out of the need to serve the Negro community. We live in a segregated society. The white newspapers deal with the news as it affects white people. And the tendency. Is. And while wizen is now more or less to emphasize news
that a fax White is one to ignore news that affects negroes. This was the original justification for Negro publications negro magazines and newspapers. The first Negro newspaper was started by a man named Russell back and the mid 19th century and newspapers and you going to say it was sort of flourished after that grew. I think that during the 20s and 30s 20s 30s and 40s we had the heyday of the negro uprising. And I have tonight it began to decline a little nigger prices began to decline a little in terms of the number of publications and the number of people who were reading them
as a ratio. As the country became more liberal that is more Negroes were accepted into the so-called mainstream were given the impression that they were going to be accepted into the mainstream. The. Fewer negroes that depended on the Negro press. That side they started the situation as far as the past is concerned. When you say that the Negro press is trying to fill a need or a space that was not filled by the white press as far as Negro community was concerned would you just put this in terms of a lack of coverage of local community events and events of community interest or would you
make this a little bit more biting and say that there is a kind of suppression of news. Which might have. And sensing the real community or the white community or might have brought to the attention of the white community. Incidents which they are not aware of I think of such incidents even in the present which the white part of this country may be totally unaware of and yet may stir the Negro community that the tendency until quite recently in the white prize was to either relegate news about Negroes to a column or to someone about the page if they bothered at all they would publish stories about crimes in which negroes were involved particularly if there were crimes which involved white people I some way threatened white people. But otherwise they didn't bother to mention Negroes at all and he goes just didn't exist as far as the white newspapers would concern. Yeah I agree that it's
still true that many incidents that happened and places like Mississippi and Alabama go unreported and they generally prize we had some incidents of us that were brought to light just recently out of the three Mississippi Coast four workers were murdered. I know there had been several murders in Mississippi murders of negroes earlier in the spring and the general price had been reported. These things that although he knew them he said they hadn't bothered to report them. This is what I'm driving at yes I saw that after they hit three boys two more white of course and I used to murder white people then you get attention. And after this came to light then in the course of reporting with some of the columnists and commentators went back and mentioned the fact that some I have doesn't mean he goes I've been murdered in Mississippi in
the spring. I think I was thinking particularly of the talk by John Griffin joining me often and which he ran down a list of. Atrocities of one sort or another is the only word I think is really apropos that have taken place in the south. Just I think it was during the last year and I think you tallied up something like 69 or 70. One of these was what he called a martyrdom Clyde canard which he said was carried in an edition of Paris edition of The Herald Tribune but nowhere in the United States and the white press. Yeah well the local papers and shot two of the local papers the Chicago made rather much of it after it had reached a point where it was certain that the man would die. They played a rather light. The big Chicago Daily News and The Sun Times both of which opened by Marshall Field and they gave a lot of space after Dick Gregory It was said
made such an issue of it when a sense and it was something that couldn't be set up at that point. Well they could have ignored it still but it made a good sob story and maybe they needed to get some story then. Even so it wasn't carried to far as I know in Los Angeles or in San Francisco or New York or Boston or even Washington in the white press. You know I'm not surprised that you know until very recently the white press and almost all of the country. Published only as I said criminal news involving negroes and I and then they started up to the walleye if there was a Negro judge or a Negro member of the Board of Education or something like that then they'd publish this fact the first Negro name to this of the first Negro named that. But until three or four years ago most newspapers identified everything that
happened you know if the negro there's a negro that in the news and sort of relegated it to a certain section of newspapers would this been another example in a flagrant one of the creation of a negro self-image or at least the image of Negro for the white community by white people that is painting the negro the way they wanted to see him. Well you know it's a reflection of their attitude I mean after all if you have a certain attitude about certain things personally I've not very much likelihood that professionally we're going to change it and change your attitude. Well I would I would wonder whether you'd be willing to go so far as to say that there wasn't an either willful or all that willful suppression. Oh yeah it's of Cornell seemingly surely. This is an ingenious fast question. New Group race was born out of an urgent need and
necessity for. The black community to have a voice some spokesman because they would not lead the day. Rest rooms freedom Journal was there because you know anti-slavery the Negro press is protest. It's a crusading argument. Mr. Berman you know when I first went to work for the Los Angeles Sentinel I saw be kind of snobbish or that's the correct word but I didn't like the social sections of the negro papers Nesta's where I went to work and I understood the function. After I got there that you see if Sammy Davis Jr. gets married find it will make the Los Angeles Times. But if Dr. Jones daughter gets married or the school teaches the order or even the domestic workers daughter gets married and we have in our social system the showers and everything else
you know that the people have what they want to report it to and I got to understand that this was. It was good it was very important to these people to have this organ. You know the Negro press with their social activities could be recorded. And I got kind of knocked down off my high horse when I got to understand this you understand and this is one of the things I think every Negro paper I think it's social section is regarded very highly in the community because of this. Now I think that another very important area is the matter of interpretation. I think that the Negro press has been able to interpret the new for the Negro community because when you picked up the white press you got a story instead of this and you would wait until Thursday negro
papers came out to get what we would call the true facts or tell the lie like it is you know and it would be completely different at times from what you read in the in the white paper. So it was a matter of interpretation you know particularly in cases that involve police brutality and things of this nature. I can remember as a child a case in New York where a butler or somebody. I was accused of murder or rape or something how it was reported in the white press and the whole of column was just sitting and waiting tense waiting for the paper to come out you know so you could find out what happened and this is the function that it had and the influence that it had you know in the Negro community. And as best Betty Hughes said it was really it isn't or it was it started out as an organ of protest and I think that this influence has been very widely felt in the Negro community. But I do feel that today as we move along with
this civil rights struggle you can see within the last four five years that there's been much more coverage of Negro new was in your you press you know. And so where the Negro press is going to go now is a very good question because I don't think that we can compete with television and radio and we most of us are weeklies becoming one so we can compete with the daily press. So more and more I think people have to become more interpretive interpret in the news rather than just reporting it because you know we have been you know you know by the time Thursday rolls around the news is three or four days old. But people will still get the paper to get different the different facts the different interpretation. For example a very good instance is the New York. Incidentally it was reported in the papers and alleged at this off duty cop shot the boy in self-defense that he had a knife.
Our movie got to the Negro press. We discovered that nobody saw the knife the children said there was no knife other than a white press did not report the fact that the the custodian of the building who the children were teasing got his whole was and said to them I washed all the black off of you. You see we've got the we got the Negro press we got this. You see we get a completely different interpretation and I think that this is a very important function of the press is the interpretation that it gives the Negro community and you know these are the things that I want to know from this interrogation is going to be necessary. Lol long time. Believe me I am not. This school of thought that the group race has too. Worry a great deal at this time where it's going because you know we're getting this coverage in the daily paper. Oh pessimistic Betty is believing that he's going to be quite awhile before any daily paper really interprets the news that so much to the extent that the functions of the new group
as interpreted as it has a sources of communication. Yes yes I agree with you I just said I think that we will have to become more interpretive and will have to become almost specialists you know rather than just be content to report the news that we cannot complete in reporting the news because I have to delve into the interpretation and become much more expert at it you know become technicians. Well that's that's assuming of course that the white press continues to cover. You know news of what would be news for the whole country but which has been neglected in the past. And when the crisis may cool down if it does you say something when it's not a crisis when the wave press doesn't feel it's a crisis or it's going to sell newspapers and say you know this is it right now they're selling newspapers. Now they're reporting this stuff Suppose tomorrow it becomes you know a little less newsworthy suppose something else comes along. Crowded off the front page is going to still be reporting the white press. I don't worry about it really I'm too busy trying to do what I'm supposed to do in any group is to worry about what they know you don't
like because frankly I want to have a magazine ILDA How do they differ in function and. Ebony magazine. Oh it was found it rather late as the Negro press because the magazine was founded in 1945. And frankly it was found as an imitation of light. Imitation is like thank you. And down the road you can tell a magazine but its cover you know and that the purpose of the magazine was then and is now to present to the reading public. And this is a total reading public not just when you go public. A picture of that portion of the Negro community which is either successful
are is because they have the publisher emphasizes the success angle because this is very good for advertising these things and all the advertisers who would be interested in selling products to Negroes who can afford them. And I it's an escapist magazine primarily although in recent years they've been getting a little away from that. But it is designed primarily to reflect the the more successful the more positive the brighter side of Negro life. Now a Negro Digest was the first magazine the first successful commercial magazine that was published by Negroes in this country. They had been other negro magazines but they had been published.
By institutions organizations or else they were very small and great commercial success but it was indeed the new good ideas and 1042 was first published in 1942 and it was pattern on Reader's Digest. At that time an amazing rather successful because it led to the bay founding of the publishing company. And I think continued until nineteen fifty one at which time because it published at that time it started a couple of other magazines which were having a rather good commercial success. And this one was not attracting the kind of advertising that the others were typing. And he decided to discontinue it that was in 1951 and then in
1961 because. The publisher felt that there should be a more serious type magazine for the company than Ebony Jet. Tell the magazine that it was publishing at the time he decided to revive the Negro Digest. And because that's what I became connected with the magazine and one of the functions of this magazine is to provide an outlet platform for Negro writers although we do publish work by white writers I think that about 30 percent of the material that we publish is by white writers. I mean this isn't the. Percentage that we want to have necessarily just develop this way. He wanted to give us an outlet a platform for
particularly young negro writers who didn't have a name or reputation. We publish at least one short story and every issue and we publish poetry we have one special poetry edition every year we have a special fiction edition every year. We use several short stories and we're busy ferreting out is not how we turned up quite a lot of talent so far. Thank you Ms Hughes I can tell this is the function of the magazine. No it doesn't have a very large budget so it's it's rather limited actually in terms of what it can do it could possibly attract a great deal more original material. We often love money but as it is we do as well or perhaps better than some of the other serious magazines like
Commonwealth and the nation and with public art is a large percentage of the Negro race owned by Negroes over I think there are many white concerned white individuals who have a controlling interest or who own outright. No I think most of the negro newspapers on by Negroes. Yeah one relatively large publishing firm that caters to Negroes and directs its products toward Negroes which is owned by whites. And that's the good publishing company down in Texas which is on. So when you say there is a thing where in advertising which point in the revenue making of these magazines is a consideration and perhaps I mean let me get specific in the Negro newspapers for example. I have cut all the news I cut all the advertising out of one San Francisco Negro newspaper and ended up with three
quarters of a page of news left there for advertising plays a strong part in the formulation of the Negro of this particular newspaper and as a result I would think that therefore the advertising which is owned by whites does play a central part in the direction this newspaper takes. Well would you direct that question is here. Let me ask one thing is a proportion of advertising larger and that newspaper than it is in the white press you know you can go through the Sunday Times and there's a lot of news comparatively compared to most newspapers but there's a hell of a lot of advertising as well. Any newspaper I think that restraint would certainly be a little less than that it and the white press that I remain that I am speaking as I would say to your question that it would depend on the specific paper and the but to the extent that remembering that advertising in all
media definitely I mean advertises just do this television radio they want to tell you what to do. You know you always the Saudis but it's to simply take get at every week and make that point clear. Then it would be pinned on the publisher to a great extent the newspaper. Because you know some folks do let their protests tell them what to do so you really don't have the functioning Negro paper that you should have because it's in the air but then others say well no you know maybe I won't have as big a paper and I don't make as much money but I learned. Yeah you know you don't tell me what to write because I'm going to write the truth. So and you do have some who are doing this so it would depend to a great extent it what I did when I was making was that to a certain extent even though a paper is owned by Negroes the white shall we say for the sake of argument the white power structure as an advertiser would have a certain
controlling and then it uses strong controlling function what goes into the newspaper no. No I would not I would from my limited experience because you know I don't have a great number of years of experience but I wouldn't know. I would say that history was easy we don't work I don't know. I think that is true of my paper but I think I think that is true I think that is true not just for the Negro press but the type of capitalistic society we live in I think that is true practically everything the advertisers do that exert a great deal of influence and the Negro press is a poor press even if some people make a lot of money out of it is the stance that is a poor press compared to the white press. So they are exerted to greater pressure because they have less money and I definitely feel that the that the that their content is controlled to a certain extent by their desire for the advertising.
But I might add there is perhaps one difference in this relationship that whereas white newspapers are also say controlled by advertisers the advertisers in this case again white whereas again the negro newspapers when they're controlled by their advertisers the advertisers are relatively if ever negro. So in other words this is a difference where you having the white community controlling the negro papers a little different than having a white community control is what has been used if I used to be. Mr. Fuller do you find this to be so. Well I think the whole idea of advertisers controlling the editorial content of Negro publications is exaggerated altogether. Me too I don't think there's very much us really with what we have any magazine now which is a very special case of the publisher himself. Tends to he will tell you very carefully categorically that
he's he's interested in attracting every advertiser that you find in Life and Look magazine if you look at a current issue the magazine you'll see that he's done it. So I meet he has done there many ads that Ebony magazine has a life and love would love to have incidentally. And he's he's there so it's a matter of his personal approach to it. You know he he feels that he has Jet magazine and now Negro Digest. If he wants to say something which might otherwise of families people and he says it in these magazines. He chooses not to do so and ebony but as I said before Ebony was designed as a different kind of magazine it was designed for a long time he wouldn't even do any articles in an ebony which had political connotations or he'll do about now. But yeah I didn't mean to suggest that the negro editors have to take their copy
to the their advertisers and so I discovered what you mean but not to let you pass it. Yeah I'm staying with me but I think I think that the conscious respect for the dollar you know you know might end up being but I think that this is much less true of the Negro press than it is of the white press you know it's as both misuse and as my mother pointed out the Negro press is basically a protest press. I don't see that protests coming out very much that's another point I wanted to make which. I read your newspaper and I read quite a few of the newspapers but relatively speaking I do not see the protests come out. For example on I don't want to call newspaper names because not important but I see headlines so-and-so cut Joe here and there and then a little item on Martin Luther King's songs also on the other. You know I think it's played out considerably higher than it's let's let's let's find out about it. I've been noticing that there's a great deal of sensationalism sensationalism and
at least one or two newspapers in every large city in this country and and it's also been brought to my attention I noticed myself as well that there seems to be a disproportionate amount of sensationalism in the Negro press is the way one covers a news story where the headlines are. What gets the top headline. I think there's always this conflict and the conflict is felt in the editorial rooms of the negro papers growly is discussing it and I think it boils down to the fact you're part of the American scene and I just know it's not limited to the Negro press. But we say the same thing of television you're always leveling aiming at the lowest level. You know like The Beverly Hillbillies you know which is on the top 10 of the programs for something like east side west side which is provocative. You know you got cut off because really ending at the local level and because the Negro press is part of the American scene I
think we tend to fall into that same trap you know. So we aim at the end but the paper wants to do is to sell papers so that often times I think we aim at that we try to find out what what is this bracket we can sell the most papers and we name this level you know whether whether this is correct or not this is this is the what this is what it's done because. So many because the negro masses most of the negro masses fall into the but they do not fall into the middle class. You see that in the educated class oft times that is why we have the sensationalism of the aiming at his dime to buy the paper you see. And you feel that he is interested in the glory of the sensationalism. Whereas you might not be interested in the intellectual but I think it's I think that it's a fault of our whole society and might be being part of it. We get caught up in this type of thing I think but that story true but I
question whether the Negro press actually indulges and sensationalism any more than what Prince does. I think there's a there's a different emphasis because there's a different emphasis. I mean newspapers you know if they're from the newspaper that every headline in The Chronicle every day is something school Chronicle is or is this a headline about some sensation that's happening it may be about Vietnam it may be about something going on Friday after. But it's a sensational headline. Now the difference with the Negro press is the Negro press is aimed at the most special audience. Oh I was easy in your remark was my weather that they're in business to sell newspapers now and I do understand that from their original intention to get in the business to protest have the degenerated into the business of selling newspapers now. Do I understand why my dear sir you can protest now to doomsday but nobody buys the paper to read
about what good is it. I mean you can that is does not exist in a vacuum. I'm not publishing a paper to be protesting that nobody is going to to read the paper has to be self-supporting. I understand though that you have to sell it. You see in order to even if you have a protest you're saying that it will have a pussy I don't disagree with you and I'd agree with you that I am to get at that site no I don't think that there is a conflict they only can say we publishing a paper to protest where publishing one to sell it goes hand in hand. You know there's no there's no conflict but they go hand in hand I am publishing a protest but you have to buy it. You know so that you have to sell it you have to maintain a circulation this is no conflict out the cast either or I think I agree. But at the same time. In looking for Negro newspapers that are protesting and making money I find very few of them. I think perhaps only when I think of the Balts Baltimore Afro-American that has I don't have writers there that address themselves to the situation and are also making suggestions in
their editorial columns as to what direction to take. I don't find that very much the case and quite a few other you broke that's not your I agree with you I agree. I I wish that the Negro press were more protesting. I really do. Oh I can't I can't harly there if the Negro press is interested in selling papers if it's kind of established there's After all a newspaper planted want to sell advertising. The people who run the paper may be you know have money which will in a way separate them from the general generality of people Negro community. Will there stand for instance on the question of civil rights question on militancy or on direct action or on something that might be unpalatable to the power structure in the Newark community as well as annoyed community be as readily accepted or promoted by these newspapers. You see if they have an interest Could this perhaps be part of the reason
for what Mr. McGee seems to feel is a lack of editorial drive for you know civil rights or whatever else. Definitely so. I think that you know Negroes have the same motivations and aspirations as everybody else and everybody's trying to get in into the mainstream and get peers you know. And when you have something to lose your a little more cautious you know then when you don't have anything and you certainly take this into consideration and I think that if the owners and the publishers of your paper have now risen up from the ranks of the masses then to become middle class they are also adopting the attitudes of the middle class and they want to keep what they have you know a lot of times I think they want to talk in really in generalities not about any particular publisher or anything but. They don't want to rock the
boat. Well does this does this mean that they've stopped responding to what's the threats now a large part of new community that they're not responding to this. Well I think that right now the whole structure not just the Negro press not that that's but the whole structure of the whole press and the whole country is in such a state of flux that it's very difficult people have moved a step ahead really of everybody else. A question like Gandhi said Pardon me I have to go and catch the people for I am their leader but the people have moved want to head is very difficult to Alans the thing right now you see. But because of this you know I think that the Negro press should assume a position of leadership at the present time. I don't think that they are because of the flux and the social upheaval.
And so it's difficult to answer the question why is there right in the middle of it you know as to what the reasons are. Now I think you know as to whether they have adopted all these middle class standards and everything else and if they have then they should be let the people shall move on they should be left in the world and some I will come along and establish another type of paper that will fit the needs of the people that this is the type of progress and change that always takes place with the word Mohamed I can't say right now that this has happened to the Negro press. We will soon be able to tell though the world what would you say about it. OK percentages Muhammad Speaks Do you think that this is such a paper as you're predicting. I don't know. I read it every now and again I don't subscribe to it. I like a lot of the things that I see in it and some of things I don't you know so I could say because I don't need it that often. Well thanks Palmer sorghum. Although the editor is not a Muslim. That has nothing to do with it other than in terms of the nature of the newspaper.
Well that's true but at the same time they do have some very good writers in there. Charles B Howard for the United Nations it has a very interesting column in there and I know he's also in a Afro-American I believe but it is and there the editor does take some positions that would widen the scope of negroes in the general community which I do not find for the most part in the regular Negro newspaper. Well you know I was just going to say in reference to what you may think may be true but our Mohammed speaks is true how so right. We're not you know I don't know what new Negro newspapers you're familiar with. You say well just all all of them and this is an area I should say in Northern California. We are I mean because you see when you make these Gen-X generalities you tend to be unfair sometimes soaring to certain specific use race for instance. There are I don't know very much about the financial success of the newspapers and Los Angeles I know that one that Miss Merryweather
works and certainly looks prosperous and out there. They're two of the best of the wealthy young two of the best are the negro newspapers two of the negro newspapers with more frequently when awards for excellence for example are published in other parts of the country and I think that they are good examples of what Miss Merryweather started out to say at the beginning of a session that negro newspapers had to do in terms of the future and they have been doing this for some time and they're having a great success. It's been a Pittsburgher you know no goodness no you know what I mean you know I would like I'm going to only think you are one of them is the Michigan Chronicle in terms of the people being ahead of the newspapers I think that this newspapers illustrate it. That you don't have to write down to people and you don't have to
keep your interest to this lowest common denominator they have and they Journal and guide the north for userland guide that is another which is a newspaper and an area in which they're comparatively speaking and not many negroes. But it's a it's a very successful newspaper. Why did you take that exception to the Pittsburgh Courier might ask. Well I think that the Pittsburgh Courier is a very special case there again and you see I think that the publisher of the Presbyterian is interested in and something else which may be adverse to what some of the other newspapers are interested in. Perhaps we might explore another subject for a couple of minutes. I'm curious as to some of the problems involved in gathering news as an eager reporter. I have a note on a remark made by Carl Rowen reminiscing about his experience as a
reporter and his worries for example that he will be able to get a story out in time because he couldn't find a hotel where he could stay in a town or something of this sort. Would you care to comment on these sort of problems. There's this limit restrict the kind of news that you were praising Kerry. Well I can speak for Jet magazine which there again is a very special case. It happens that most negro weekly newspapers have limited budgets so we're what happens a Jet magazine being able to use the total resources of the Johnson Publishing Company is a great deal better off in this area than than most other negro weeklies and they've been able to surmount these problems more than as say for instance if there's an area in which
the hostility against negro reporters would be a menace enough you know great enough to constitute a menace. Well listen listen in a white reporter to to cover it for top reporter and my photographer to do it well let's let me let me turn the question a little bit and put it this way instead of talking but now the Negro press Let's talk about the negro reporter who may have a job on a white newspaper I think this would be more the case for Mr. Roland. The problems of this sort that he would encounter which would limit his usefulness as a reporter to the newspaper. I just had an interesting experience I don't know if it fits in here but the White Citizens Council had a meeting in Pasadena and I was thrown out of it. Oh yes I got the whole white press they don't out with me. But of course we had you know people white people in the audience who reported back to us about it you know but I was very
highly visible and other people of cost of walking without an invitation. But that was about the only time I've had difficulty. But I had a lot of trouble over there in Pasadena of all places and at a White Citizens Council meeting the White Citizens Council meeting where well what about reporters from the group press or for just new reporters. Let's talk for a minute about the quality of reporting about the kind of people who worked in the Negro press now Davitt has Negro press for example been able to get the best caliber of people from the Negro community and to act as reporters have people such as Carl Rowen. Who are clearly a very high caliber had success in moving on to white newspapers or have they been able to be begin there. Just what are the chances for a new group of reporters in the New York press or out of it.
Well the Until very recently all the negroes work for the Negro press used to get jobs on White Papers which is really very unfortunate because a negro had no place else to go. I mean you will find if you go back five to 10 years at all the people that I have worked in all the newspapers like you asked me about where's Doc Young will from the doctors work for the sense you know he's worked for the go he's going to Chicagoans were from Chicago Defender. He's Rick Ebony's bridge for Jet. I mean it's just a circuit and all you can do is go around and that circuit you see and it's I imagine I came into the news business fairly recently just four years ago. But I imagine that for the old timers it must be pretty pretty frustrating because you just went around you had no place else to go you said you couldn't expand. Out and up you know a car well one is an exception. And of course now you know the area is opening up.
But in the past the area was simply just a negro the negro circuit that it was a tragedy I think that a lot of talent was lost just dried up and died away because you have to have some mobility you have to have some way to move or you will get stifled. And these people have no place to move and they just became stifled and a lot of them were it was just this is a tragedy it's really a tragedy but the negro. There's another you were asking about the function of the press that was one of the greatest things is that it could absorb some of these people but not all. I think of how few Negro papers that we have here think the tremendous amount of potential journalists and writers and things that couldn't even get into the Negro press you see because if this wasn't any jobs for them and they had to go out and do something else because as late as four years ago I could not get a job with the Los Angeles Times. Is it possibly going to jail now.
Now the Los Angeles Times say they were high and negroes but they want the young people right out of college who have not had any training so between them and their ways I still probably couldn't get a job at the Los Angeles Times I'm not that young you see. But the situation is OK now the situation is opening thank goodness. But I really think that this is a great great tragedy a great tragedy because everybody is not a Karl Rove when you know people expect Negroes to always be so superior you know. And when and when not to be. We want the right just to be average just want to be I don't want I of course I want to disappear right here. But I mean I call Roland you see this is a extreme Sapir you see but why can't i just be a plain ordinary right here and right and you know for a paper and be happy. You know I mean they don't have the capabilities or the capacity to be a car Rowan but I have a capacity to be good be poor but they grow you always have to be so superior so supreme So better you know honestly I'm trying to say. And there's so
many. Average report is and riot is the just dried up because it has no other no avenue for them anywhere. A few were absorbed into the Negro press. The rest became the fog or fizzle. I turned to another trader or something and the white press a complete blank. One or two or three might have squeeze through maybe there was one the New York Post you know one someplace else. But it's a great tragedy. It certainly wasn't 10 percent of them you know as the population as well was just used for good. No I just heard some personal experiences which which might support good pledges Merryweather said and throw some additional light on on the situation. When I came out of college some years ago about 12 13 years ago maybe. We have a very small graduating class and joined us and I was only a negro in the class and mileage was his but Wayne State University and because of the
top class thing I think there was only one person in class was class average was a little higher than mine by some percentage point and the head of the school journalism of course was an editorial director on one of the daily newspapers in the city. And most of the of the faculty members and School of Journalism were connected with newspapers or publications and then every student in the graduating class got a job through the faculty members except me and of course say they missed a hole in the head of the school has a very fine and actually very nice kind you know nice and he was conscience stricken about the whole thing and he came talk to me about it and so he suggested that perhaps if I had a fun job someplace else and worked for a while and then went to India that I'd be able to get a good job with an Indian
newspapers as he stated. I think they you know they say that there are a great many jobs open now. White publications for Negroes goes many goes I'm moving and I'm but you know it's also reach the point where many of these qualified young negroes who have been asked I know and how office particularly when I have an opportunity to serve to observe are a great many people coming through. Now we have on the staff right now of Jet and Ebony magazine several very bright young people who have turned down jobs with white publications in preference to staying on with negro publications because they're more concerned about working with the new press at this juncture on the other hand in Chicago I think that the daily
newspapers and you know populations in Chicago is over a quarter almost a million negroes in the Chicago area. The Chicago Tribune which is the biggest local newspaper and also the most conservative has no Negro on staff I had a very interesting experience just a little while ago we've been in the process of word of mouth encouraging the girls to drop their subscriptions to the newspaper because many negroes are rather innocent and they don't bother about reading the editorial pages in this newspaper ran a whole series of articles on the front page of the the newspaper back home to present decided not to on the other hand I happen to have personal acquaintances word life time low and a lot of the other major publications.
Yes it's Oprah had a very interesting experience with radio. CBS 10 years ago I threw up his go I came to Los Angeles where I would be willing to buy was a legal secretary and I wanted to do with a get in on the ground floor. So I would have been perfectly willing to start in the graphic pool you know. So I went to call the test and they told me that I couldn't start working the stenographic pool because my skills were too high. You had this you know I could type as fast as likelihood. You know I think I typed the words a minute without any errors. And I would be bored and it's been a graphic pool. Well I knew I would be a boy but you get in the pool and you hope that you can move on last year. Since things were beginning to open up I went back to CBS put an application in this time for my writer and the woman said would you be willing to start in the stenographic pool. The higher everybody is horizontal you know if there's a position open the open we
go back and see who is working here because the real feel of this so that everybody comes in very low level you know. Even the directors might be camera boys a mess you know the drill I said about 10 years ago I would have thought is that it was cool but not today. Very sorry but. And you would give me this opportunity when I was willing to start the by the now I once thought level that I am you know I thought that was very interesting still for the young kids coming out of school you see they do have this chance now to get in and to work really up but for the people I put myself in the field we no longer feel that we wish to go back you know start at the beginning and work our way up again you know. Well I worked I worked for the right price. I was an editor of cards encyclopedia when I came back to Johnson Publishing Company to start as my senior advisor just so I have worked in. Both areas I was I would think that
it's at a more sensitive situation where you disseminating news than if you were going for elections to put negroes in. Aside from discriminatory policies is that there's a desire to keep certain kinds of news out of the papers. Well yes there's that you know. So Simeon Booker who incidentally runs the Washington office of the Johnson Publishing Company he's a Neiman fellow. He just wrote a book with a book just published in the spring called Black Man's America. And I personally think that the best section in the book deals with the white press. And of course he's worked for The Washington Post and he's as I said he's an even fellow and he's had very intimate experiences and both the negro in the white areas and some of the things that that he tells you know through his from his prison is absolutely devastating.
He was covering the 1960 Well Nixon the 1960 convention train and whatnot. As a bonafide correspondent certified and he asked the publisher to transfer him back to the Kennedy train because they were reporters and the press people around Nixon were actually preventing him from from getting any information. Not only that but in doing the press conferences President Eisenhower deliberately refused to ever call on him and Simeon Booker. He would never recognize him during during his whole term in office and at one point Booker says in his book that President Eisenhower saw I may go for time for doing what is best gov's And that's what's that boy doing that
is writing a book. I was going to ask Mr. Fuller and Mr. Merryweather What do they attribute the the betterment of the situation with regard to the jobs job situation I mean is this not a function of the protest that the ad has been made by the same show as the grassroots demonstrators and everything like that. Do you feel this is just the way America goes willy nilly and things are getting better because I mean I'm back to that same point again I really believe that if the press were to take on more of a function as a protest organ I think these things would have opened up long ago and I think faster nowadays. Well I think that I definitely believe that it is as a result of the revolt now on the phone now. I don't think that that that's going to happen anyhow. I think that we were going in that direction. I think it's someone said already said here that it's been the pressure of the
Negro be vulnerable. They're not going to give you think they're going to give you anything. Right and I think that these things which are opening up are a direct result a lot of phony. I agree. But rather to figure out a par. Justin I really fail to see how the more protesting on the part of newer newspapers would have helped the situation at all. It has been you see my experience has been different from yours apparently. It has been my experience that the Negro press has protested and protested and some cases so loudly and so persistently that the people to whom they were protesting turned a deaf ear to it you know they kept hearing the same thing over again type of protest if you don't mind here because it's another thing to protest that as opposed to calling the people out in the streets. Let's march on the whatever you know. Well because this
is the type of thing I really believe is getting these jobs. You know I mean even even to the point where the Congress of Racial Equality they're known to protest so that they're known to get out of street so much so that when you say Christopher Milke company. Who never hired a negro driver were sitting up there when we went to consult them about well what are you going to do now. They said well we've been waiting for you we've got these jobs here so-and-so and so-and-so. So what I'm saying is that that type of protest is what is needed. And i type of I see the card calling them out and to say yes well. Well it could be said if I could cut Mr. fall off. I'm not quite sure whether I agree with that and I think we're here to report the news not make the news. You know as far as calling them out into the streets I could Syrian But what I do think that we could do more effectively is to give better coverage to these people who
are calling them out in the streets with whom I don't think that is the funk. I don't I'm not sure now that it is the function of the paper itself to just you know to usurp this role. But there has been a tradition in American journalism of crusading journalism true of the strong editorial stand I think of the muckraking business early in the century things of this sort so it is I think. A valid tradition in American journalism I think what Norman is asking is why isn't this true of the Negro press which I would think has so much more reason right. Do I think personalities certain amount of that. You must remember I think that demonstrations of the type you're talking about are relatively new Maybe nobody really thought of them you know before that they're relatively new. And yes and I've been alive a long time and until very recently I had never experienced any any mass Neco
demonstrations you see. Now when you when it comes to picketing and and exerting pressure on businesses institutions within the Negro community it has been my experience that the new going to have to end this. Well what I was thinking of. Particularly I guess with about 20 years ago when a Philip Randolph threatened the March on Washington during FDR as reign and we got from that if the PC at that time I think the papers picked it up you know and stood behind it but it was Philip Randolph's baby. You know the paper the next year but once he initiated it and they got behind him and this is the type of thing I'm talking about you know. You know by by saying the reporting we can definitely throw the weight of the paper editorially behind the Crusader which I think that in today we're not doing as much as we should
do of course there are these organs that do try to lead a thrust on the civil rights front but they're not heard of very much for example. I was going to either you too familiar with the. The liberator that comes out of New York Yankees Zenon freedom ways. It's a quarterly and also even the Crusader which comes from Cuba by an expert exiled former and WCP president and I was. So there are these type of papers and even back in the old days when the Liberator was at the Frederick Douglass's paper and and you had all sort of even in the in the in the 20s with The Chicago Defender when they used to smuggle it down to the south and and burn it if a white man ever saw them looking at him you know I think we get back to what I said before. And and that is that I think. That if he publishes in the only other negro papers are not in the forefront like the crusade in the great is that
- Producing Organization
- KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
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- Pacifica Radio Archives (North Hollywood, California)
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- Hoyt Fuller of the Negro Digest, Louise Meriwether of the Los Angeles Sentinel, Bettye Hughes of the San Francisco Sun, and Norm McGhee discuss Black publishers and publishing. The panel is moderated by Al Silbowitz.
- Talk Show
- African Americans--Civil rights--History
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Producing Organization: KPFA (Radio station : Berkeley, Calif.)
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Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: 2383_D01 (Pacifica Radio Archives)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Pacifica Radio Archives
Identifier: PRA_AAPP_BB0896_An_organ_for_protest_the_Negro_press (Filename)
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- Chicago: “An organ for protest : the Negro press,” 1964-08-08, Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-qz22b8vw7w.
- MLA: “An organ for protest : the Negro press.” 1964-08-08. Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-qz22b8vw7w>.
- APA: An organ for protest : the Negro press. Boston, MA: Pacifica Radio Archives, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-28-qz22b8vw7w