crown CU Home > Libraries Home
Columbia Center for Oral History Portal >

Oral history interview with Percival Leroy Prattis, 1971.

Creator: Prattis, Percival Leroy, 1895-1980
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

Percival L. Prattis (1895 - 1980) attended the Christiansburg Industrial Institute and Hampton Institute, and graduated from Ferris Institute in Big Rapids, Michigan. He began his journalism career in 1919 at the Michigan State News (1919-1920), followed by work with the Chicago Defender the Associated Negro Press, the Amsterdam News, and the Pittsburgh Courier. In 1947, Prattis became the first African American journalist to be granted membership in the Senate and House. Prattis served with the Community Chest of Allegheny County, Brasher Association, the Federation of Social Services of Allegheny County, Centre Avenue YMCA, the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP, and the Urban League.

Scope and Contents

In his 1971 interview with Henry La Brie, Percival L. Prattis discusses his path to becoming a journalist and provides an overview of the black press from its inception in 1827. He also discusses the differences between the white and black press, the role of the black press in the community as well as its role in assimilating black citizens into American society and sensitizing white Americans to the conditions of black Americans. Prattis shares his thoughts on his contributions to the field of journalism; black ownership of black newspapers; and changes in the black press in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He shares his thoughts on what the absence of the black press would mean for American society, the establishment of a national black press, and the role of black newspapers in the lives of black Americans.


Using this collection

Columbia Center for Oral History

Columbia University
535 West 114th Street
801 Butler Library, Box 20
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-7083


Columbia Center for Oral History