Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

February 9, 1935

When reading through the February 9, 1935, issue of the Norfolk Journal and Guide, I was struck by the wide variety of topics the newspaper covered and how many of the items related to themes I have posted about already for Black Quotidian.

Among the stories and news items that caught my attention:

An editorial, “Preventing Lynching,” that praises the work of the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and reproduces a map of fourteen lynchings in 1934 and fifty-five potential or threatened lynchings that were prevented. “There is a need, crying louder today than ever before for a Federal anti-lynching law,” the editors argued. “The Journal and Guide has urged passage of such a bill for years and will continue to do so until proper remedial measures for the punishment of mob murderers in every part of the United States have been adopted.  The object, of course, is to afford every man charged with crime the benefits of due processes of law and an orderly trial” (click to view PDF).

The next page features an article regarding the start of Negro History Week, the precursor to Black History Month. “There is more material for use for the proper observance of Negro History Week now than there was in 1926 when the first observance was held,” journalist Thomas Dabney noted before listing several books that “may be secured from Dr. Carter G. Woodson, 1538 Ninth St., N.W., Washington, D.C.” (click to view PDF).  As with my post on February 1, I am struck by how many people worked to make Negro History Week a reality and by the thought of people from across the country writing to Carter G. Woodson to request African-American history materials.

Several pages later, the paper’s entertainment section featured a brief profile of “two outstanding screen personalities, Louise Beavers, the Pancake Queen, and Fredi Washington, her dejected daughter” who starred in “that heart throbbing drama, ‘Imitation of Life’ showing at the Booker T. Theatre all this week.”  Imitation of Life dramatizes the struggle of a light-skinned black woman who tries to pass as white. Across from the profile of the film is an advertisement for a skin bleaching cream that I posted about on January 25.

Finally, there is installment fifteen in “The Story of Paul Laurence Dunbar,” a syndicated series from the Associated Negro Press. I posted on January 21 about the Chicago Defender’s use of Dunbar’s poetry to market subscriptions to the newspaper.

The February 9, 1935, issue of the Norfolk Journal and Guide is unique in covering such a wide array of topics, but I wanted to use today’s post to highlight the thematic breadth of the black press.


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