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Thu, 08.02.1906

Roi Ottley, Writer, and Journalist born

Roi Ottley

*Roi Ottley was born on this date in 1906. He was a Black writer and journalist.

Born in New York City, Vincent Lushington "Roi" Ottley was the second of three children of Jerome Peter and Beatrice Brisbane Ottley.  His parents immigrated to New York from the island of Grenada.  Young Ottley was educated at St. Bonaventure College (1926-1928), the University of Michigan (1929), and St. John's Law School (Brooklyn, New York).

From 1931 to 1937, Ottley worked as a reporter, columnist, and editor for Amsterdam News. He also joined New York City Writers' Project as editor in 1937. Published New World A-Coming: Inside Black America in 1943, incorporating Writers' Project reports; it became a bestseller and was adapted into a series of radio programs.  He worked as a war correspondent for PM, Pittsburgh Courier, and Liberty; as publicity director of the National CIO War Relief Committee in 1943.  He later became a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and broadcasted reports for both the Columbia Broadcasting System and the British Broadcasting System. In 1943, he served as publicity director for the National CIO War Relief Committee.

Ottley reported on such events as the Normandy Invasion, the hanging of Mussolini, and the Arab–French conflict in Syria. He interviewed important Allied political leaders and such personalities as Pope Plus XI, Governor Talmadge of Georgia, and Samuel Green, Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan.

At the Chicago Tribune, he wrote a series on the migration of Blacks from the agricultural South to the industrial North and its impact, the voting trends among Blacks, and the war.  Topics in the latter series included the plot to remove all Black soldiers from occupied Germany, the desire of blacks to participate in the war fully, the absence of race problems when Blacks were allowed full participation, and the stellar performance of the Black soldier.

Additionally, he wrote articles on Black achievers in Chicago, such as Dr. Philip C. Williams, the first Black to be admitted to the Chicago Gynecological Society. Other books include Black Odyssey: The Story of the Negro in America (1948), No Green Pastures (1951), and The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott (1955).

Roi Ottley died on October 2, 1960. His works White Marble Lady (1965), a novel, and The Negro in New York: An Informal Social History, 1626-1940 (1967, with William J. Weatherby) were published after his death.

to be a Journalist or Reporter



Frances C. Locher, ed.,
Contemporary Authors, Vols. 89-92 Detroit, MI:
Gale Research Company & The Book Tower, 1980), 388.

Max J. Herzberg,
The Reader's Guide to Encyclopedia of American Literature
(New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1962), p 839.

Donald Paneth,
The Encyclopedia of American Journalism
(New York: Facts on File publications, 1983), 358
(as quoted by Alan Delozier in An Examination of Race-Relations in Great Britain in the United States, 1942-45 by Black American Journalist Roi Ottley.)

Dexter Teed,
"Ottley sees New World A-Coming"
New York Post Daily Magazine,
April 7, 1944. P.1

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