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Horace Cayton Sr.
*The birth of Horace Cayton Sr. in 1859 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black newspaper publisher and political activist.
Born on a Mississippi plantation, he and his family moved to a farm near Port Gibson, Mississippi, after Emancipation. He worked his way through Alcorn College, graduating in the early 1880s. Convinced that with his education and a will to succeed he could reach his real potential by leaving the South, he headed west, stopping briefly in Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and Portland before finally ending up in Seattle, where he began working for the Populist newspaper. Later he worked as a political reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The Seattle Standard, founded in 1891 by Brittain Oxendine, was the city’s first newspaper for Black people, and Horace Cayton found employment there until 1893, when it failed. Seeking to publish a paper that appealed to both Black and white people, he issued the first edition of the Seattle Republican on May 19,1894. In 1896, he married a woman he had met in college. Susie Revels was the daughter of Hiram Revels, the first Black person elected to the U.S. Senate. She became associate editor of the paper. The paper was political, with news of national, state, and local politics in each issue and with Republican opinions. Pride in his race was evidenced in reportage of local Black success stories and activities in the Black community.
The Republican Party, the party of Lincoln, attracted many Black people and Horace Cayton was able to win an important position in the party. He was a frequent delegate to the county and state nominating conventions, secretary of the party’s King County convention in 1902, and for several years a member of the Republican State Central Committee. Between 1900 and 1910, the number of Blacks in Seattle had risen from 406 to 2,300, and white prejudice grew. Politically Cayton lost power and, after 1910, he never sat on the Republican State Central Committee or attended a Republican convention.
Cayton became the victim of Seattle’s changing racial and political pattern. In 1917, the Seattle Republican newspaper folded three months after Cayton published an article about a Southern lynching. Subscriptions were canceled and advertisements were dropped. He continued to pursue a career in publishing, and issued Cayton’s Weekly from 1916 until 1921, but was unable to make it an economic success. He also lost his home at 518 14th Avenue North where Booker T. Washington and other leaders visited.
The family moved to a small house near Mt. Baker Park. In addition, Cayton purchased a three-story wood-framed apartment house on 22nd Avenue near Jackson Street to manage, and Mrs. Cayton found employment as a housekeeper. They entered into activities of the growing Black community, participating in social and civic events. He continued his affiliation with the Republican Party through membership in the King County Colored Republican Club. Horace Cayton Sr. died on August 16, 1940, and Susie Revels Cayton died in 1943.