The Community Citizen

In the 1950s, an African American man from New Albany named J.W. Jones published a semimonthly newspaper called The Community Citizen. It is believed the newspaper, which featured local “negro”news, national stories from newswire services, and editorials, was first published in 1948. The most debated political question of that time was segregation, and The Community Citizen’s content reflected its editors’ pro-segregation position. Its stance against integration won the attention of the Citizens’ Council of Mississippi, an organization comprised of white citizens that mobilized political forces to thwart integration through the 1950s and 1960s. By 1955, the Citizens’ Council had endorsed The Community Citizen, and copies of the newspaper were distributed throughout the state.

The Community Citizen espoused views that have long been discredited. They rejected the efforts of Civil Rights workers to attain equality for all African Americans:

“The sponsors of the NAACP do not care what our final condition may be. The Negroes of the South are employed by and work for white men or corporations controlled by white men. . . . This paper has from time to time warned our people that the NAACP has nothing to lose, even if it falls short of its goal. Why? Because it lives at the expense of ignorant Negroes, and selfish white people. . . . It does not show adult sense to indicate that you want to go some place you know you are not wanted.”

Likewise, the editors rejected integration:

“The Community Citizen from the beginning of its publication has upheld segregation, and any person who has as much forethought as a 10 year old kid can see that segregation is the means by which the southern Negro has made more progress than any other group of his class in the United States.”

The newspaper applauded African Americans who resisted integration. Among its most celebrated segregationists was Reverend Samuel Watson, pastor at Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church in New Albany and world traveler, who preached the merits of segregation to his congregation. The Community Citizen praised Watson as “a truthful and honest leader for his race.”Watson, the editors wrote, “is a man of wisdom and vision, and there are but few Negroes in his class.”

It is not known for how many years The Community Citizen remained in publication, nor is the newspaper’s effect on the larger community apparent.

Sources:

The Community Citizen has won fame for itself, THE COMMUNITY CITIZEN, June 23, 1955, at 1.

This conclusion is drawn from the fact that the newspaper published itself as volume 6 in 1954, volume 7 in 1955, and volume 8 in 1956. Logically, its first volume would have been published in 1948.

New Albany News, THE COMMUNITY CITIZEN, Jan. 13, 1955, at 2.

THE COMMUNITY CITIZEN, Aug. 11, 1955, at 2.

The ugly truth about the NAACP, THE COMMUNITY CITIZEN, Nov. 3, 1955, at 1.

A new classification for newspapers: “Puppy papers”, THE COMMUNITY CITIZEN, Sept. 8, 1955, at 1.

New Albany Brief, THE COMMUNITY CITIZEN, Aug. 11, 1955, at 1.

New Albany News, THE COMMUNITY CITIZEN, Nov. 3, 1955, at 3.