Black Representation in the Valdosta Daily Times
By Jacelyn Lane
The period between 1950 and 1970 was a time filled with events of the civil rights movement. Blacks were the outcast from mainstream society and seldom were reported on by the white newspapers, but as time went on more "colored" stories appeared. However, while doing research in the Valdosta Daily Times, the content of the stories seemed almost all the same. The articles are mostly about blacks committing crimes, in later years many civil rights stories appear, and eventually came the few and far between stories of a good deed by a black person. Blacks were discriminated against even in the newspapers.
In 1960 only a small amount of articles were written about the black community. The year's stories consisted of one crime by a Negro, a petty misdemeanor. There were also a few societal announcements, two death notices, and an apology from a white senator about getting upset and physical with a civil rights worker. Generally the black community was still second-class to most of the white community.
The newspapers of 1955 were also scarce in their reporting on the black community. Two articles appeared, one commenting on the admission of Negroes to the University of Alabama, the other about one Negro man killing another over small change.
The real change came in 1960 where the white newspaper printed twenty-five articles about the black community. With only seven articles about Negro crimes, the majority consisted of the fight for civil rights. The Civil Rights Bill, integration, even whites trying to desegregate Negro schools and cafés were all prevalent articles spanning the pages of the Valdosta Daily Times. The newspaper included more sentimental stories, including one about a young boy who lost both his arms and legs to a cotton picker and a white girl who saved a young Negro boy. The existence of a Negro obituary and the fact that a few articles did not mention that the story was about Negroes until the last sentence seemed to indicate the white community trying to recognize the black community.
In 1965, forty-one articles were printed concerning the black community. With only seven crime stories, the majority of the articles reported on the progress of the civil rights movement, eighteen articles. The Valdosta Daily Times reported on speeches by Martin Luther King Jr., desegregation at all levels President Johnson's urge for call for civil rights, and demonstrations. However, the opposing side to civil rights was also prevalent during 1965. The articles included Ku Klux Klan demonstrations and an article stating that "White Supremacy Is In No Danger."
When it came to black representation in the Valdosta Daily Times, the negative prevailed. Articles included crime, civil rights, and miscellaneous societal announcements. The feeling of the articles make it easy to see the second-class role the black community played from 1950 to 1970.
"Valdosta Daily Times": First Saturday of each month of the years 1950, 1955, 1960, and 1965. Microfilm.
Jacelyn Lane, Honors English Student.