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Historian describes political competition between two 1890s black-owned newspapers



Salt Lake City, Utah – In Utah in the late 1800s, there were several Black-owned publications, two of which had competing political viewpoints.

A few of the publications were local news sources that offered resources and information to the little but expanding Black population.

The proprietors of two neighborhood newspapers made use of their resources to encourage civic engagement and have an impact on the community.

One was the Broad Ax, a Democratic journal that Julius F. Taylor started in 1895.

Known as the Republican newspaper, the Utah Plain Dealer was considered the political adversary of the Democratic Broad Ax daily.

The Utah Plain Dealer, as preserved digitally, was first published on January 9, 1897.

The newspaper was run by William and Elizabeth “Lizzy” Taylor.

Readers with an observant eye will note the intricate masthead on the top page, which features a Black guy carrying a document with the words “Help the new negro industries.”

A bald eagle perched behind his legs appears to have cut a ribbon bearing the words “Peace if possible.” Justice at any rate.”

The Utah Plain Dealer’s preserved edition provided insight into the country’s political and economic climate in 1897.

“The great political struggle added greatly to the tumult in which the United States has been in . . . ”

Additionally, more African Americans were observed to be relocating to Salt Lake City.

“And never before in the history of the state have so many of our people found residence within its borders, and we are glad to note that they are fairly prosperous . . .”

The 1890s saw Salt Lake’s small Black population begin to grow and organize, according to historian Rachel Quist.

“And that’s about the same time that Calvary Baptist church starts up, and Trinity AME church starts up,” she said.

A primarily Black neighborhood on Edison Street, originally known as Franklin Avenue, in downtown Salt Lake served as the birthplace of numerous periodicals.

“But as the Black population was pushed out of Franklin Avenue to this area of Salt Lake City — we’re in the south side of the Central City neighborhood — that’s where the Black newspapers started to be produced,” Quist said.


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