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Title:
The Colorado statesman. [volume] : (Denver, Colo.) 1895-1961
Alternative Titles:
  • Statesman
Place of publication:
Denver, Colo.
Geographic coverage:
  • Denver, Denver, Colorado  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Publisher:
J.D.D. Rivers
Dates of publication:
1895-1961
Description:
  • Began in 1895; ceased in 1961.
Frequency:
Weekly
Language:
  • English
Subjects:
  • African American newspapers--Colorado.
  • African American newspapers.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799278
  • African Americans--Colorado--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Colorado--Denver.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205192
  • Colorado.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01210251
  • Denver (Colo.)--Newspapers.
Notes:
  • Available on microfilm from the Colorado Historical Society and the Library of Congress, Photoduplication Service.
  • Description based on: Vol. 6, no. 17 (Jan. 27, 1900).
  • Latest issue consulted: Vol. 51, no. 12 (Dec. 19, 1941).
LCCN:
sn 83025514
OCLC:
9541391
Holdings:
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The Colorado statesman. [volume] January 27, 1900 , Image 1

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The Colorado statesman

Joseph D.D. Rivers came to Denver, Colorado in 1885 after graduating from the Hampton Institute in Virginia. The former student of Booker T. Washington joined the crowds leaving the East in an "attempt to discover the wonders of the Middle West, then termed the Wild, Wooly West" (Colorado Statesman, June 8, 1918). Arriving in Denver, he filled various positions in the state and municipal departments. He was the first black license inspector of the city of Denver and the first black advisory member of the Republican state central committee. He also studied law and ran a real estate business, and he was an early proprietor of The Statesman, a newspaper he helped found with Editor Edwin H. Hackley in 1888. Published in Denver, the weekly Statesman served the black community in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and New Mexico.

In 1895, "Rivers felt that apart from his individual successful achievements he could be serviceable to his race … [and] entered the field of journalism" as proprietor and editor of his own publication, the Colorado Statesman. (Hackley changed the name of his Statesman to The Denver Star so as not to be confused with Rivers' venture.) The Colorado Statesman later stated that it had "developed into the mouthpiece of the people in this western country, and received a recognition from all parts of the United States as well as beyond the seas as a staunch advocate of 'Human Rights and Liberties'" (Colorado Statesman, June 8, 1918). Rivers acted as managing editor, business manager, publisher, and owner. But to give credit where credit was due, he also described his wife, Ritchie, as being of the "most valuable assistance to her husband in disseminating the knowledge of uplift and advance to her people."

Early in his editorial career, in 1896, Rivers was arraigned before the United States commissioner on the charge of "causing to be deposited in the mails printed matter of indecent and obscene nature" (The Aspen Weekly Times, February 29, 1896). The obscene matter in question was an article under the title of "An Evil Eye" that referred to deacon, pastors, and other officers "of the colored churches in such a manner as to rouse their indignation" (Boulder Daily Camera, March 3, 1896). Rivers gave as an excuse that his local editor was ill and that he was so busy that he did not read the article closely.

Besides his editorial and publisher's duties, Rivers was also a member of the United States Grand Jury, the National Negro Press Association, and the National Negro Business League, as well as the secretary of the Western Loan and Investment Association and the president of the Colored Citizens' League. In the latter capacity, Rivers was a very vocal opponent of the exhibition of the film The Birth of a Nation. The League petitioned the mayor of Denver not to issue a license to show it, and Rivers published the following: "Petitions, protests, delegations should flood the office of the Mayor and other City commissioners, expressing our utter disapproval of the exhibition of this picture, and as we have a city ordinance which gives our municipal fathers the right to act, we trust they will rise to the occasion which is of paramount importance and defeat the introduction of anything in this city which will break the links in the chain which every citizen, irrespective of class, creed or color, has helped to make" (Colorado Statesman, December 4, 1915).

The newspaper was staunchly Republican and proclaimed its "readiness to do whatever that lies in our power to insure its success and its cause." The Colorado Statesman employed Mrs. Mabel B. Fallings, "a bright young newspaper correspondent," and John H. Pynter as its Washington, DC correspondents. (Pynter also served as a delegate to the Negro National Educational Congress.) The paper carried coverage of "Race News" from across the country, Republican politics, and opinion pieces on topics that affected the black community such as Jim Crow laws and universal suffrage. It printed national and state news items, city and regional news, and serialized and patent content such as "Foibles of Fashion" and "The Kitchen Cabinet". The pages of the Colorado Statesman teemed with advertisements from black-owned businesses.

For nearly 40 years, Rivers was the editor and publisher of the Colorado Statesman, until his retirement in the early 1930s. Joseph D.D. Rivers died in 1937; however, the paper continued to publish for close to another 30 years, finally folding in 1965.

Note: A portion of the issues digitized for this newspaper were microfilmed as part of the Miscellaneous Negro newspapers microfilm collection, a 12 reel collection containing issues of African American newspapers published in the U.S. throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Creation of the microfilm project was sponsored by the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies in 1947. For more information on the microfilm collection, see: Negro Newspapers on Microfilm, a Selected List (Library of Congress), published in 1953. While this collection contains selections from more than 150 U.S. newspapers titles, for further coverage, view a complete list of all digitized African American titles available in the Chronicling America collection. 

Provided by: History Colorado