Cover image for Ted Poston : pioneer American journalist
Ted Poston : pioneer American journalist
Hauke, Kathleen A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Athens : University of Georgia Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
xiii, 326 pages ; illustrations ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


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PN4874.P595 H38 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This is the story of the first African American reporter to spend his career at a mainstream daily. After working for the black papers Pittsburgh Courier and the Amsterdam News, he joined the New York Post. He provided an insider's viewpoint on segregation and civil rights.

Author Notes

Kathleen A. Hauke is an independent scholar living in Arlington, Virginia.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Add this biography to the lengthening list of studies of the African American generation that laid the groundwork for the mid-century civil-rights movement. Poston (1906^-74) may be journalism's equivalent of Negro League ballplayers who spent time in the "majors" after Jackie Robinson broke the color line. A Hopkinsville, Kentucky, native, he supported his study at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College by working as a railroad porter and dining-car waiter. Poston went to Russia in 1932 with other U.S. blacks to make a film on racism, then was a Pittsburgh Courier reporter and city editor at Harlem's Amsterdam News. He helped Heywood Broun found the American Newspaper Guild, joined the Federal Writers' Project, and worked for the Office of War Information during World War II. Poston wrote for the New York Post, becoming one of the first black journalists to gain a full-time position in the mainstream (i.e., white) media. Viewed as their "dean" by younger journalists, such as the late Bob Maynard, Poston lived a fascinating life, well worth examining. --Mary Carroll

Publisher's Weekly Review

After working as a Pullman porter, a dining car waiter and a copy boy, Ted Poston moved to Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, in 1928. Seven years later, he was hired by the New York Post and so became the first African-American staff reporter at a mainstream daily. In wonderful detail, through interviews and extensive archival research, Hauke tracks Poston from his childhood in Kentucky through his college education in Nashville (where he shoplifted his suit and hitchhiked to school), from his stint waiting tables in the famous Cotton Club to his immensely popular tenure as a reporter and city editor for Harlem's black newspaper, the Amsterdam News. In Hauke's telling, Poston's accomplishments as a reporter are staggering: he traveled to Russia with Langston Hughes and Malcolm Cowley in 1933 and, upon his return, covered the retrial of the Scottsboro boys from a segregated balcony in Decatur, Ala., because the court refused to recognize his press credentials (he posed as a minister to evade angry locals and surreptitiously passed his dispatches to a New York Daily News reporter in a bathroom stall). He wrote and edited for the Federal Writers Project during the Depression, and, at the Post, covered black culture with unparalleled access to crucial moments of American history. Friendly with porters and politicians alike, Poston wrote about black notables from Father Divine to numbers runners and his neighbor, Thurgood Marshall. In 1940, FDR selected Poston for his "Black Cabinet" and Poston remained in Washington to serve as the head of the Negro News Desk for the Office of War Information during WWII. He returned to the Post after the war and traveled frequently to the South to report on the burgeoning civil rights movement, including the first stirrings of King's bus boycott in 1955, the trial of Emmett Till's lynchers and the integration of the University of Alabama. A legendary raconteur, activist, humorist and trailblazing reporter, Poston remains one of the most underappreciated luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance. Hauke's exhaustive biography will do much to reverse that. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

This is the life story of the first African American reporter to spend his career at a mainstream daily newspaper, The New York Post. During WW II, Poston became a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "black cabinet" when he headed the Negro News Desk of the Office of War Information in Washington. Hauke tells how Poston returned to The Post after the war and provided an insider's viewpoint on segregation and the Civil Rights Movement. He reported on the Scottsboro trial in Alabama in 1932, covered Martin Luther King Jr. during the Montgomery bus boycott, reported on the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas (1957-59), was on the scene of riots in Harlem and in Cicero, Illinois, and covered the trials for the murders of Emmett Till and Medgar Evers. The author describes how Poston's incisive reports on everyday racism were eye-openers for the paper's mostly white readership; often he softened the bitterness of his stories with humor. Since Poston's personal history with discrimination paralleled the nation's history and his viewpoints on race relations in the US came from personal experiences, this book will be valuable to those interested in both journalism and history. J. D. Hamlet Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania