More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.
Country: United States
State: South Carolina
City: Rock Hill, S.C.
Issues of this title available in Elephind: 1
Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 4
Earliest Date: 26 January 1900
Latest Date: 26 January 1900
The weekly Rock Hill Messenger provided a voice for African Americans in the Piedmont region of South Carolina for over twenty years. Along the way, the Messenger survived libel accusations, an office fire, and competition from other black newspapers. Captain Philip Thomas White established the Rock Hill Messenger on January 10, 1896. A native of Chester County, South Carolina, White was actively involved in civic affairs, from local Baptist churches to Masonic organizations. For a time, the Messenger was even designated the official organ of black Freemasons in South Carolina. White also served as principal of the Fort Mill Graded School and as professor and financial agent for the Friendship Institute, a religious school supported by black Baptist churches in Chester and York Counties.
The sole extant issue of the Rock Hill Messenger, dated January 26, 1900, suggests that the paper was as civic-minded as its proprietor. The issue contains information about the Friendship Institute, the Lancaster Normal and Industrial School, and plans to install electric wiring in black churches in Rock Hill. A piece titled “Genteel Negro” offers a window into class consciousness in African American communities rarely seen in other black newspapers. Reacting to a proposed plan by the legislature of Virginia to segregate railroad cars, the author opines that “compel[ling] refined Negro men and women to ride in cars with the lower and baser classes would forever destroy and block the noble work they are doing.”
An interesting chapter in the history of the Rock Hill Messenger, the libel suit, can only be documented by its white counterpart, the Yorkville Enquirer . In 1906, J. Henry Toole, an African American barber held in high esteem by Rock Hill’s white community, recommended that the Reverend Philip G. Drayton, a professor at Biddle University in Charlotte, North Carolina, be appointed the president of South Carolina State College, an institution serving blacks. In response, Captain White warned that “the Negroes of this state will rise en masse and boycott any institution managed by a member of the race appointed on the recommendation of a Negro Democrat, a Ku Klux.” White’s quarrel was not with Drayton, whom he described as a “special friend of the editor of this paper and a good man,” but with Toole (in 1876, Toole had supported former Confederate Army General Wade Hampton in his campaign to restore white Democratic rule to South Carolina). Toole protested the charge that he was a Klansman and sued White for $5,000. The case was settled out of court.
The Rock Hill Messenger ceased sometime in 1921, for reasons unknown.
Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC