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Doc F. Benson and Howard H. Pullins started the weekly African American newspaper, the Arizona Sun, in Phoenix, Arizona, in April 1942. Under its masthead, the Democratic newspaper stated, “Published in the interest of Social, Political and Economic Welfare of 15,000 Negroes of Arizona.” This was updated to 60,000 in 1949 to reflect the growing African American population in Arizona. In October 1950, the Arizona Sun’s new masthead incorporated a drawing of the sun rising over the mountains with saguaro cacti in the valley below. The Arizona Sun was the only African American newspaper published in Phoenix during the 1940s and 1950s, after the Phoenix Index [LCCN: sn 96060866] ceased about 1943 and before the Arizona Tribune [LCCN: sn 84021918] began in 1958. During that time, the newspaper listed at the top of every front page: “Read Arizona’s Only Negro Newspaper.”
The Arizona Sun regularly featured issues of local and national importance, from urging voters to desegregate Arizona schools, to news of the Phoenix Urban League, from labor rights to veterans’ news. In the 1940s, Nellie Maye Taylor had a regular column, “Sunshine,” in which she commented on the racial, political, and economic challenges faced by people of color. Other regular columns included “The Fiction Corner” and “Sidewalk Opinion,” which featured photos of school children and their views on issues of the day. In 1946, the paper introduced a comics section and a “Woman’s World” column about fashion and clothing.
In the April 1952 tenth anniversary issue, the editor noted that the Arizona Sun continued its original message of “the promotion of social, political and economic welfare of Arizona's Colored citizens—most good for the greatest number.” In looking back over the news it had printed in the preceding ten years, the Sun noted that its “pages have been filled with pleas and arguments in behalf of Negro rights in the community.” The newspaper’s thirteenth anniversary edition stated it had three main guiding interests: “the home, the church, and the school,” and indeed news about the local community was prominent.
Katherine Bass, who wrote a column “Bits of This and That” about community members and local happenings, took over as editor for one year in June 1943 when Howard Pullins left. By July 1944, Doc Benson was the sole managing editor. Due to Benson’s health, the Sun suspended publication in December 1958 but resumed in February 1960 with Benson as publisher and Alton Thomas as managing editor. Benson had served as president of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) of Arizona and was among the first African Americans to be elected to the Arizona legislature. Thomas, who had been executive director of the Phoenix Urban League for several years, was editor until December 1962, when Charles R. Campbell briefly served as managing editor. Charles Campbell and his brother Cloves Campbell later published the Arizona Informant [LCCN: sn 92060457], which is still being published in Phoenix. By January 1963, Thomas was again managing editor, and the paper ceased publication by 1965.
Essay provided by University of Arizona Libraries.Dates of Publication1942-196?Frequency of PublicationWeeklyPlace of PublicationPhoenix, ArizonaLanguageEnglishPermissions and ReuseThe contents of the Arizona Digital Newspaper Program (ADNP) are available to the public by our partners for using in research, teaching, and private study. Please note that U.S. Copyright and intellectual property laws apply to the digital resources made available through this site.