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The first African American newspaper in Arizona was the Phoenix Tribune, started by Arthur Randolph Smith in 1918. Smith was the Managing Editor for entire run of the paper. He was also involved in the community and participated in local debates. The Arizona Republican [LCCN: sn84020558] praised the new newspaper, and subscription advertisements for the Phoenix Tribune regularly appeared in the Republican. In the early years of the newspaper, Helen Harper Vance was an Assistant Editor and Contributing Editor, writing editorials on topics like discrimination against African American nurses in the Red Cross and a regular column “Seen and Heard in Prescott.” In 1918, the Tribune held a contest for signing up new subscribers with the prize being a $35 diamond; the winner was a resident of Ajo, Arizona, attesting to the statewide reach of the newspaper.
In its March 1922 fourth anniversary issue, Smith wrote a front-page column about African American life in Phoenix. He noted that the most recent census reported the African American population in Arizona to be about 8,000, 2,000 of whom lived in Phoenix. The paper grew to include poetry, public documents, advertisements, opinion pieces, and church announcements. A special thirty-two-page magazine supplement, Arizona American, was issued in December 1925 with extensive information about African American businesses, schools, professions, homeownership, and churches. The Tribune appealed to its readers to patronize businesses that advertise in the Tribune and to “spend your money where you are welcome.”
The Tribune published local, national, and international news, reporting on the repercussions of World War I and civil rights issues, including segregation and laws against lynching. The paper featured stories of interest to the community, such as a profile of Dr. W. C. Hackett, the first African American licensed physician in Arizona who started the Booker T. Washington Memorial Hospital in Phoenix, and community happenings, as well as advertisements for local business. Significant articles included “Widow [Alice Dunbar Nelson, poet and activist] of Famous Poet will Engage in War Work” (September 14, 1918), headline “Second German War Probable” (February 1, 1919), “Blacks and Whites Clash in Chicago Race Riots” (republished from Associated Negro Press, June 28, 1919), and “Governor of Georgia Signs Anti-Lynching Measure” (October 18, 1919).
The newspaper’s slogans varied over the years and included “We originate – others imitate,” “Always improving,” “Arizona’s Greatest Weekly,” and “Arizona’s Leading Newspaper…Key to Happiness in 10,000 Homes.” The paper started out publishing weekly and varied in length from four to ten pages. Special issues were longer, from twelve to over thirty pages, filled with advertisements. By 1923, the newspaper was published less frequently, sometimes every other week, sometimes monthly, and eventually only every few months until it ceased publication sometime in 1931.Dates of Publication1918-193?Frequency of PublicationBi-weeklyWeeklyPlace 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.