Fay M. Jackson and the Color Line: The First African American Foreign Correspondent for the Associated Negro Press

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Abstract

During the 1920s and 1930s, Fay M. Jackson broke traditional barriers by serving as the first African American foreign correspondent for the Associated Negro Press (ANP). Jackson was the only African American female reporter of the ANP who covered the coronation of King George VI in 1937 and used the opportunity to report on the sociopolitical affairs of Blacks in Europe while specifically underscoring the Italo-Ethiopian conflict. While in Europe, Jackson set out to meet with various political figures and activists of color to emphasize the parallel treatment between Blacks in the U.S and other communities of color outside the U.S. Little research has been done on the role of African American female journalists in American history. Therefore, Jackson's importance is further accentuated by the fact that she was one of few women who forged a way into the Black press. Jackson's voice has gone virtually unnoticed with scant acknowledgments of her career and contributions to the Black experience in America.

Introduction

Fay M. Jackson was born on May 8, 1902 in Dallas, Texas and moved to Los Angeles, California in 1922. By twenty-six years old Jackson acquired the foundation needed to turn into an entrepreneur, a two-fisted reporter deeply concerned about the political welfare of her community, and a revolutionary voice in the Black press. Jackson started the first Black intellectual newsweekly on the west coast entitled Flash in 1928; became the political editor of the California Eagle in 1931, and served as the first Hollywood correspondent for the Associated Negro Press (ANP) in the 1930s. But her work as the first Black female foreign correspondent for the ANP in 1937 remains her most important contribution to the Black press. Little work exists, however, on her life and achievements in this arena; hence Jackson remains a part of a forgotten legacy of Black female pioneers in the field of journalism.

Black Female Journalists

Scholars of African American Studies have been less than deliberate in providing in depth analysis on female journalists in the Black press, specifically from the 1890s to the 1930s. Roland E. Wolsey once stated, "female editors and writers of the nineteenth century had been ignored as journalists by almost all who had written on Black journalism before 1970" (Broussard 5). The role of Black women in journalism has remained in a state of obscurity until the last 18 to 20 years. Ida B. Wells is the most iconic female pioneer of this group. She was one of the most rebellious and prolific voices of her time but a biography chronicling her work did not appear for close to half a century after her death (5). Wells, who brought international attention to lynching and championed the rights of Blacks, women, and children, served as the progenitor of women like Fay Jackson. But only recently has there been an emergence of other biographical publications of women who worked as political and social activists with their pens.

The contributions of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the editor of Provincial Freeman from 1854-1858 have become the focus of new biographies and biographical sketches. Amy Jacques Garvey, editor for the Negro World newspaper, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson who wrote for the Pittsburgh Courier have also received attention from historians (Broussard 7). Though publications such as Raising Her Voice: African American Women Journalists Who Changed History by Rodger Streitmatter, Giving a Voice to the Voiceless by Jinx Broussard and Missing Pages: Black Journalists of Modern America: An Oral History by Wallace Terry are valuable as the introduction of women who had been invisible, they do not offer the in-depth narratives of these leaders in journalism and the Black community.

Many African American women during the middle and late nineteenth century moved toward journalism because of their work in the women's club movement. Publications such as Women's Era founded by Josephine St. …