The Louisiana Weekly: an Historical Overview Essay

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THE LOUISIANA WEEKLY: AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

The Founding: The Twenties

The Louisiana Weekly is among the oldest newspapers that African Americans publish in the United States. The weekly paper published in New Orleans for 80 years, as of 2005, has chronicled the ups and downs of black people, particularly before the mid-1960s when mainstream newspapers began the slow climb toward progressive reporting of the affairs of blacks.

Constant Charles Dejoie, Sr., president of the Unity Industrial Life Insurance Company in New Orleans, invested approximately $2,000 and founded The Louisiana Weekly, the first issue of which was dated September 19, 1925. Dejoie, then age 44 and without journalism training, took the title of publisher
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According to sociologist Daniel C. Thompson:

Over the years, therefore, Negro publications in New Orleans, especially the Louisiana Weekly, have done a gigantic job of collecting and interpreting information on vital issues affecting Negroes and the Negro community. There is some feeling among Negro leaders, however, that this information reaches very few white men of power.

Of course, the Weekly was far from the first black newspaper in New Orleans. That honor went to L'Union; the premier issue of which was published in the city on September 27, 1862, and represented the first black newspaper established in the south. (The Weekly was also unable to claim the title of being the oldest continuing black newspaper in Louisiana.) The Shreveport Sun, which opened in 1920 in northwest Louisiana, remains in business and is five years older than the Weekly. Nevertheless, New Orleans, the largest city in the state and one of the key cities of the South, in 1925 had been without a local black newspaper for 18 years. The Weekly, which followed the Southern Republican (1898-1907), filled the void.

Black New Orleanians needed the Weekly just as any other group needs a press to serve its special interests, according to one of the paper's first editorials which said:

We know that there must always be papers devoted to special interests. We know that certain societies are justified in having their papers for
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