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Title:
The Petal paper. [volume] : (Petal, Miss.) 1953-19??
Place of publication:
Petal, Miss.
Geographic coverage:
  • Fairhope, Baldwin, Alabama  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Hattiesburg, Forrest, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Petal, Forrest, Mississippi  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Publisher:
Petal Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
1953-19??
Description:
  • Vol. 1, no. 1 (Nov. 19, 1953)-
Frequency:
Monthly June 1962-<Aug. 1972>
Language:
  • English
Subjects:
  • Alabama--Baldwin County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01215487
  • Alabama--Fairhope.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205201
  • Baldwin County (Ala.)--Newspapers.
  • Fairhope (Ala.)--Newspapers.
  • Forrest County (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Hattiesburg (Miss.)--Newspapers.
  • Mississippi--Forrest County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01208486
  • Mississippi--Hattiesburg.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01208381
  • Mississippi--Petal.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01226274
  • Petal (Miss.)--Newspapers.
Notes:
  • Editor: Percy Dale East.
  • Latest issue consulted: Vol. 19, no. 10 (Aug. 8, 1972).
  • Published in Petal, Miss., 1953-Oct. 23, 1958; Hattiesburg, Miss., Oct. 30, 1958-Aug. 1964; Fairhope, Ala., Sept. 1964-<Aug. 1972>
  • Publisher: East Publication Co., <Vol. 14, no. 6 (Apr. 1967)--Vol. 19, no. 10 (Aug. 8, 1972)>.
LCCN:
sn 85044791
OCLC:
4178093
ISSN:
0031-6210
Holdings:
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The Petal paper. [volume] August 30, 1956 , Image 1

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The Petal Paper

Percy Dale East was born in 1921 in Columbia, Mississippi. He grew up in the poor, rough turpentine and lumber camps in the piney woods of south Mississippi where his father worked as a manual laborer. East began his newspaper career in 1951 as editor of the Union Review and the Local Advocate, two labor union newspapers published in Hattiesburg, now home to the University of Southern Mississippi. Two years later, he established the Petal Paper in the small adjacent town of Petal. The inaugural issue of the Paper came out on November 19, 1953 and read like a typical small-town newspaper with local news and advertisements. Within the first year, the successful publication had nearly 2,000 subscriptions.

The situation changed in 1954 after the Supreme Court ruled segregation in public schools unconstitutional in Brown v. the Board of Education. East began to criticize the state legislature for their determination to oppose the federal decision. He became known for his controversial editorial column dubbed the "East Side" in which he often attacked the policies of United States Senator from Mississippi, James Oliver Eastland (1941, 1943-78). East continued to be critical of those in favor of segregation, especially the white supremacist Citizens' Councils. In the August 30, 1956 issue, East reprinted a full-page satirical advertisement which ridiculed the organization. In part it read, "Yes, YOU too, can be SUPERIOR/Join The Glorious Citizen's Clan Next Thursday Night!" As a consequence of his outspokenness, by November 1956, East risked losing the newspaper as local advertisement and subscription dollars dried up.

While local support for the Petal Paper increasingly vanished, it gained national and international recognition. Donations and subscriptions from people all over the country helped sustain the paper. For example, East received support from television personality Steve Allen, who advertised his autobiography Mark it and Strike It (1960) in the Paper. Revenue from East's compilation Editorial Reprints from The Petal Paper (1959) and royalties from his memoir, The Magnolia Jungle (1960), provided additional income. Local ostracism, however, made it difficult to maintain a weekly distribution; the Petal Paper became biweekly in August 1960, and declined to monthly publication by the end of 1962. In 1964, after East received threats and harassments, the Petal Paper moved to Fairhope, Alabama. In the subsequent years, the newspaper published book reviews and national stories on racial issues. East continued to speak out against racism in his editorials, but his dedication ultimately took a toll on his health, and he sank deeper into debt. After East died in 1971, his wife, Mary Cameron East, continued to publish the paper. The last known appearance of the Petal Paper was the August 1972 issue.

Provided by: Mississippi Department of Archives and History