The Savannah tribune. (Savannah [Ga.]) 1876-1960
Place of Publication:
- Savannah, Chatham county
Dates of publication:
- Vol. 1, no. 35 (July 29, 1876)-v. 78, no. 51 (Sept. 24, 1960).
- African Americans--Georgia--Savannah--Newspapers.
- African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
- Chatham County (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Georgia--Chatham County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01207617
- Savannah (Ga.)--Newspapers.
- Also issued on microfilm from the Library of Congress Photoduplication Service.
- Also on microfilm: Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Libraries.
- Not published: <1878>-1885. Cf. Gregory, W. Amer. newspapers.
The Savannah tribune. October 23, 1886
John H. Deveaux, Louis B. Toomer, Sr., and Louis M. Pleasant, three prominent African-American businessmen and Republican officials, published the first issue of the Colored Tribune on December 4, 1875, in Savannah, Georgia. They renamed the weekly paper the Savannah Tribune in 1876, and that title persisted while it became one of the longest-running African-American newspapers in the South. As the paper’s manager and editorial voice, Deveaux dedicated the pages of the Tribune principally to the advancement of Savannah’s African-American community and Republican Party. That same year, Deveaux published editorials encouraging Savannah’s Black residents to register to vote and garnered attention by condemning the Savannah Theatre for segregating seats at a performance of the all-Black Braham Musical Club. Despite the publication’s success, there were no printing presses owned by African Americans in Savannah, and the Tribune was forced to suspend publication in 1878 after white Democratic printers refused to print the newspaper.
When Deveaux and R. W. White revived the Tribune on October 23, 1886, the paper published from its own printing plant located on St. Julian Street. In that issue’s salutatory editorial, Deveaux explained that ‘the main and higher object of our paper will be to promote the cause of education, cooperating with all teachers and workers in that cause, and the moral and material advancement of the colored people.’ In 1889, editorial control of the Tribune passed to Solomon ‘Sol’ C. Johnson when Deveaux accepted an appointed position as collector of customs in Brunswick, Georgia. Under Johnson’s direction and with a reach extending to north Florida, the Tribune crucially reported injustices of the Jim Crow era. Beginning in 1892, Johnson particularly criticized segregated streetcars in the city and played an instrumental role in the boycott movement that emerged in the early 20th century.
After Deveaux’s death in 1909, Johnson purchased the Tribune, and, by the 1920s, he shifted the newspaper’s editorial tone from the ideology of Booker T. Washington to a more activist voice for civil rights and social equality. Continuing its history of featuring prominent black thinkers in its columns, Harlem Renaissance writer James Weldon Johnson served as a correspondent for the Tribune during his tenure as executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In 1928, the Tribune, Georgia’s leading African-American newspaper, faced significant competition with the establishment of the Atlanta World (later Atlanta Daily World), which became the preeminent black newspaper in the state. Following Sol Johnson’s death in 1954, his goddaughter, Willa Ayers Johnson, became the first female owner and editor of the Tribune, and she managed the paper until it ceased publication in September 1960. Robert E. James, a banker, then reestablished the Tribune in 1973, and he managed the paper until 1983 when his wife, Shirley Barber James, became the publisher and sole owner. To this day, the Tribune continues to serve Savannah-Chatham County’s African-American community.