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Editor Emory O. Jackson, the Birmingham World, and the Fight for Civil Rights in Alabama, 1940-1975


Kimberley Mangun

This cultural biography tells the story of Birmingham World editor Emory O. Jackson. During his 35-year career in Alabama, he waged numerous sustained civil-rights campaigns for the franchise, equal educational opportunities, and justice for the victims of police brutality and bombings. The semiweekly newspaper was central to his advocacy. Jackson wrote editorials and columns that documented injustices and urged legislative and legal action in an effort to secure civil rights for Black Alabamians. His body of work, grounded in protest and passion, was part of the long tradition of the Black Press as an instrument to agitate for social and political change. Jackson also was a frequent speaker at NAACP branches, colleges, and churches. He was known as a commanding, even fiery, speaker who stressed first-class citizenship. Issues explored in the book demonstrate an assertion of constitutional rights in post-World War II America and a remarkable resilience. Editor Emory O. Jackson, the Birmingham World, and the Fight for Civil Rights in Alabama, 1940-1975 is the first scholarly analysis of his work and as such contributes to scholarship on the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama and the nation.

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Chapter 8. Yet We Go on Fighting


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Birmingham World employee Marcel Hopson, who had worked under Emory Jackson’s watchful eye for 28 years, was named managing editor of the newspaper in 1975. Publisher C. A. Scott also tried to interest Ruby Jackson Gainer in becoming a shareholder in the paper and helping to run it. He acknowledged problems with staffing and finances, issues her brother had repeatedly raised, but Scott was confident that the newspaper could be righted if the Scott and Jackson families worked together. Gainer declined his offer. The Scott family sold the Birmingham World in 1989 to Joe Dickson, who had delivered the paper as a boy and participated in civil-rights demonstrations as a young man. He continued to publish the weekly newspaper until 1998, when the last issue of the 67-year-old World came off the press.1

Both the Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Newspaper Publishers that Jackson helped establish were dedicated at Howard University in March 1977 in conjunction with the sesquicentennial of the founding of Freedom’s Journal. He would have enjoyed the celebration and mingling with attendees including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; his former Morehouse Professor J. Saunders Redding; Alice Dunnigan, whose stories as head of the Washington Bureau of the Associated Negro Press often appeared in the Birmingham World; and Kansas City Call editor Lucile Bluford, who ← 241 | 242 → began her career with a brief stint at the Atlanta Daily World. Jet covered...

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