I’ve longed had a interest in the PITTSBURGH COURIER since one of its founders, Robert Lee Vann of my Winton Triangle community in North Carolina’s Hertford County, led it to prominence as a leading African American newspaper. On behalf of my organization, Chowan Discovery Group, I successfully nominated Vann for a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker. In 1935, it had the largest circulation among African American newspapers, exceeding a quarter of a million. Also, as a college student, I contributed to a Courier article. It was a story about a groundbreaking in the Winton Triangle.
In the past month, via newspapers.com, I captured almost of the Courier articles that contained the keywords of the Triangle’s three towns, Winton, Cofield and Ahoskie. From over 100 articles, I found many people I knew and know. Most poignant was a 1944 captioned photograph of Army physical therapists in California. The tallest of the ladies was my 2nd Lieutenant Ruth R. Jones, my dear Aunt Ruthie.
My Aunt Ruth (middle) on a California Base. This photograph is from our family collection. The COURIER photo is similar but poorly reproduced from the microfiche.
The Pittsburgh Courier also reported and commented about a noted incident that took place in Ahoskie. At a 1947 Kiwanis Club annual dance, a drawing was held. The prize was a Cadillac. My cousin, Harvey Jones, would not have been allowed to attend but had been sold a ticket by the sheriff, had the winning ticket. After realizing that a man of color won, the Kiwanis asked the band’s lady vocalist to select a second ticket. She refused.
Once the word of the injustice was spread across the country and even broadcasted on Soviet radio, Kiwanis International pressured the Ahoskie local to give Harvey either another Cadillac – the first had been awarded to a doctor – or the $3700.00 value. Harvey was a 22 year-old veteran with a wife and baby. He took the money and built a house on Jones land. His widow stills lives in the house. The Courier published 12 articles about Harvey. I grew up with this story, and am so pleased that the PITTSBURGH COURIER crusaded to help right many wrongs and promoted many of our successes.