Scottsboro was one of the paper's first major national stories. The Call and Post did not merely provide reports and editorials about the incident; it actively appealed for community involvement. It joined other Black newspapers and organizations in requesting donations for the youths' defense. Moreover, the Call and Post initiated drives for the public to send the defendants morale boosters such as gifts and letters. This rallying of support represented more than a demand for justice. It also represented the growing value placed on the Black community at large. Instead of exclusively appealing to the elite, the newspaper asked everyone, regardless of their educational or occupational status, to participate in this national drama. The purpose of this article is to show how one Black newspaper used this incident to mobilize Black citizens not only to fight for justice for the defendants, but also to fight for justice and equal rights for the Black race.

     Specifically, this manuscript examines the Call and Post's coverage of the Scottsboro incident from 1934 to 1950, when all of the defendants were released. The manuscript not only focuses on the way the paper involved the community, but also on the journalistic techniques used to cover the cases. Although the cases began in 1931, there are no extant issues of the paper before 1934. This absence probably reflects the paper's fledgling development. Its treatment of the cases since 1934, however, is representative of the growing power and professionalism of the Black journalism of the time period.

     The Cleveland Call and Post has been overlooked in studies about the Black press. This is as much a reflection of the overall dearth of studies on Black newspapers as it is the tendency of historians to focus on the major metropolitan newspapers and generalize downwards.5 Studies on Black newspapers have tended to focus on nationally circulated papers such as the Chicago Defender and the Pittsburgh Courier. But studies of local and/or regional newspapers such as the Call and Post should provide a richer understanding of the social and cultural complexities affecting the media.6


<back to previous page


continued on next page>


cologo2.gif (6442 bytes)

February 2000