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*On this date in 1941, we celebrate the publication of the Arkansas State Press newspaper.
Founded by Lucious and Daisy Bates, they used their savings to purchase the Black-operated Twin City Press, later renamed Arkansas State Press. The newspaper was modeled on African American newspapers from the north and helped to promote civil rights activism throughout the state. Includes photographs.
The State Press advocated for civil rights and covered Black involvement in sports, social events, politics, and entertainment. In addition, the State Press talked about police brutality and the harsh treatment of Black citizens, attacking racial injustice. The first issue was released on May 9, 1941, with the motto: "This paper stands for honesty, justice, and fair play. And it stands behind what it stands for."
The State Press addressed the lack of employment opportunities for Black residents in Arkansas and the nation in the second issue. During this time, Europe was caught in World War II. The United States was not involved yet, but the country's defense was being developed. When defense industries started locating to Arkansas, Blacks were denied employment.
This prompted Bates to write a response in the State Press, telling the federal government they should use Blacks in the national defense program as safeguards against saboteurs and fifth columnists. "Place Negroes as guards on munitions factories, shipyards, airplane works...This is no time to quibble with stupid prejudice; our national defense is more important than unreasonable racial antagonisms." For eighteen years the newspaper was an influence in the American Civil Rights movement in Arkansas. The newspaper would eventually close in 1959. The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for aggregating and enhancing partner metadata.