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The War Fought by Black Journalists at Home

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By Dorothy Gilliam and Jacqueline Trescott
April 2, 2015

By Dorothy Gilliam and Jacqueline Trescott

         Many important accounts of the Civil Rights Movement remain hidden, and near the top of that list are the lives of black journalists who recorded the dramatic news as the actions moved from Montgomery, Ala. to Greensboro, N.C. to Selma, Ala.

         In the 1930s, some journalists stole into the South by bus at night to avoid the Klansmen who sent written notices to black newspapers warning that they would “take care of any nigger reporters who stick their nose in our business here again.” Some of the journalists wore overalls and muddy shoes as they carried their wobbly Royal portable typewriters wrapped in brown paper so they looked like a pack of clothes.

          Some reporters also carried false credentials in case local authorities became suspicious of their roles. They often mailed their articles at night, sending them with trusted Pullman Porters on the midnight Illinois Central train heading north, back to the headquarters of their newspapers or magazines.

         Many important accounts of the Civil Rights Movement remain hidden, and near the top of that list are the lives of black journalists who recorded the dramatic news as the actions moved from Montgomery, Ala. to Greensboro, N.C. to Selma, Ala.

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