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The Gary American. [volume] : (Gary, Ind.) 1928-current
Place of publication:
Gary, Ind.
Geographic coverage:
Gary American Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • 1st year, no. 1 (Mar. 22, 1928)-
  • English
  • African Americans--Indiana--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Gary (Ind.)--Newspapers.
  • Indiana--Gary.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01205217
  • Indiana--Lake County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01218109
  • Indiana.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204604
  • Lake County (Ind.)--Newspapers.
sn 86058053
Preceding Titles:
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The Gary American

In 1927, Arthur B. Whitlock, David E. Taylor, and Chauncey Townsend headed the formation of the Gary American Publishing Company in Gary, Indiana. On November 10th, 1927, the Gary Colored American, a weekly African American paper, published its first issue with Townsend as editor and Whitlock as manager.

The Gary Colored American led reporting on the 1927 Emerson School Walkout, when white students and parents protested the integration of six African American students into the school. In response, Colored American reporters advocated for the construction of Roosevelt High School to serve Gary's African American children in. In 1928, the Gary Colored American changed its name to the Gary American, becoming one of Gary's most prominent African American newspapers. While initial circulation numbers are unavailable, the American claimed in 1928 a readership of nearly 2,000 readers. In 1929, its masthead asserted that the American was an "independent paper" devoted to African American interests in Northern Indiana. In the 1920s and 1930s, its reporters highlighted the increase of lynchings across the U.S., the struggle of integrating Marquette Beach, and labor concerns regarding the United Steel Workers at Gary Steel.

From 1934-1936, Black attorney Fritz Alexander served as editor until Arthur B. Whitlock regained control. Whitlock's politics leaned towards the Republican party, and the American advocated for Republican candidates while under his management. Whitlock left the company in 1938 and attorney F. Louis Sperling was elected editor and acting manager. His legal influence filtered through as the American released articles on monumental rulings in the U.S. criminal justice system such as the Scottsboro Boys trials, the Anti-Lynching Bill of 1937, and the effects of President Roosevelt's New Deal on African American jobs.

Between November 1938 and February 1939, Wallace L. Johnson served as editor before being charged with embezzling the institution's funds, leading to Arthur B. Whitlock regaining control over the Gary American Publishing Company.

The Gary American stayed within the Whitlock family for the next seventeen years, with Henry O. Whitlock becoming manager in 1944 and his wife, Edwina, becoming editor in 1947. Edwina published her own column, "First Person Singular," for many years, addressing a variety of women's issues, such as education, race relations, and domestic life. Throughout their leadership, the American heavily focused on the emerging Civil Rights Movement within the community by exposing discriminatory funding within Gary's public education system, highlighting the creation of Gary's first African American Taxicab Company, and following the local boycott against Kroger Stores for refusing to hire African American employees.

Henry and Edwina operated the American until Henry died in 1960. Edwina sold the Gary American to brothers James T. Harris and Fred "Kid" Harris in February of 1961. Under their leadership, the American expanded its circulation to East Chicago, reaching approximately 9,000 readers. Additionally, the paper's political orientation shifted towards the Democratic Party, advocating for straight party tickets and electing Democratic leaders. "Kid" Harris became the sole operator of the American in the 1970s; it ceased publication in the late 1990s.

Provided by: Indiana State Library