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Oral history interview with Cecil B. Newman, 1971.

Creator: Newman, Cecil B.
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 28 pages Sound recording: 1 sound cassette
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Cecil B. Newman (1903-1976) was a business leader and civil rights advocate. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri and moved to Minneapolis in the 1920s. He wrote for the Northwestern Review, co-founded the Twin City Herald in 1927, and published the Timely Digest. While publishing the Twin City Herald and Timely Digest, Newman was also working other jobs, including as a bellhop and Pullman porter. In 1934, he founded two papers: the Minneapolis Spokesman and Saint Paul Recorder. In 1948, he became the first black president of the Minneapolis Urban League. He owned and edited the Spokesman and Recorder until his death in 1976. The papers would be merged into the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder in 2007. In 1965, Newman received an honorary law degree from Allen University, South Carolina.

Scope and Contents

In this 1971 interview Newman describes: his childhood, during which he was an avid reader; his informal education in journalism; and his first experience working as a journalist. Newman gives an overview of his civil rights advocacy in the Midwest (including a brewery boycott), coverage of party politics, the ethnic diversity of his newspaper staff, and his efforts to fight racially-targeted police brutality. Speaking about the black press more generally, Newman discusses: how it differs from the white press; its successes and failures; how its role has changed; and the future of black papers. The interview concludes with brief discussions of the possible effects of white ownership on black papers, the role of advertising in black papers, the sensationalist reputation of the black press, and the credibility of white newspapers for black readers.

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