Andrew J. Smitherman: A pioneer of the African American press, 1909--1961
Magliulo, Myrna Colette
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My subject of inquiry is Andrew J. Smitherman, an accomplished African American lawyer and journalist. I will examine his life and career as a successful newspaper editor and publisher during the early 20 th Century. Many historians have recognized Smitherman for his early career in journalism and for his role in the Tulsa race riot of 1921, but they have not examined his life beyond his years in Oklahoma. What has been left out is that after leaving Oklahoma following the Tulsa riot, he established himself in Buffalo, New York, returned to the newspaper business and continued his work as a crusading journalist, activist and publisher for another 35 years. Using the many newspapers Smitherman wrote for and published, such as the Muskogee Cimeter, Star, Tulsa Star, and Buffalo/Empire Star, this thesis will construct a narrative of Smitherman's role in the struggle for equal rights for African Americans. It will also draw from various sources such as his personal and partially written biography, historical scholarly works, personal paper collections, and law. As this thesis demonstrates, Smitherman was found to have been instrumental in fighting racial injustice throughout his 50 year career, but more importantly his writings serve to preserve a critical piece of American history. He has proved to be one of the many African Americans of the twentieth century who must be noted for their social and political activism and recognized as a devoted public servant.