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Oral history interview with Ralph Matthews, 1971.

Creator: Matthews, Ralph
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 42 pages Sound recording: 1 sound cassette
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Ralph David Matthews (1904 - 1978) was born in Bel Air, Maryland. He attended Morgan Academy, graduating in 1924. Matthews began his career in the newspaper business in 1924 as a reporter for the Baltimore, Maryland based Afro-American. Throughout his career, he worked for the paper in Washington, D.C., Newark, Philadelphia, and New York before retiring in 1968 as Associate Editor of the Washington Afro American. During his more than fifty year career, Matthews covered politics, civil rights, and the Korean War. Locally, Matthews actively raised funds for the Children's Hospital through the New Faces Guild, was a founding member of the Capital Press Club, and a recipient of the Wendell L. Willkie Leadership Award. Matthews and his wife Inez had two children, Ralph Jr. and Shirley (Fonseca), and three grandchildren.

Scope and Contents

In this interview with Henry G. La Brie III, Ralph David Matthews discusses his education, career and training, mentors, and the status and purpose of the black press. Matthews reflects on the encouragement he received from William N. Jones to enter the newspaper business. He also describes the mentorship and training he received from Carl Murphy, publisher of the Afro-American newspaper chain, when Matthews was a student at Morgan. Matthews also shares his views on the reasons for Murphy's success in the newspaper business. He discusses his views on the differences between the black and white press, its focus and origins, the contributions the black press has made to the black community and American society, and its successes and the changes over time. Matthews also discusses his mentorship of Levi Jolley, who later took the helm of the Pittsburgh Courier.


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