The Mississippi Moments Decades Series continues counting down to the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2021. This week, we are happy to share a few memories from Pulitzer Prize winning editor and Hattiesburg native, Robert Woodrow Brown. At the time of this interview on November 3, 1973, Brown was still working as a newspaper editor in a career spanning more than forty years. In addition to several high-profile print positions, he also worked in the news departments of NBC, ABC, and the International News Service. Brown passed away four months after this interview was recorded, on April 2, 1974.
1973 - At a young age Robert Brown decided to pursue a career in Journalism. In this episode, he recalls going to work for the Hattiesburg American while still a high school student in 1930.
In 1936, Brown moved to Greenville to work for newspaper publisher, Hodding Carter, Sr. He explains why their decision to publish a picture of Olympic medalist Jesse Owens was so controversial. Being a proponent of social and economic justice made Carter a fearless newspaper man. Brown reminisces about his mentor and friend.
In the late 1930s, Brown accepted a position with the New Orleans Times Picayune, eventually moving to Washington D.C. for the paper during WWII. He recalls befriending a colorful character known as “The Mystery Man in the Big Red House on Avenue R.”
PHOTO: Tampa Bay Times
As the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage approaches its 50th Anniversary in 2021, we continue our Mississippi Moments Decades Series by starting at the beginning and working our way through the collection, year by year. This week we look at Volume 1.
1971 New York Times Editor Turner Catledge began his newspaper career at the Neshoba Democrat in 1921. In this episode, he recalls those early days and how publisher Clayton Rand helped him get started. Newspaper reporters and publishers have often been attacked for writing unflattering stories. Catledge remembers two fearless Mississippi journalists: Clayton Rand and Fred Sullens.
In 1971, the New York Times published a secret document on the US war in Vietnam known at the Pentagon Papers. Mississippi native, Turner Catledge, discusses their decision to run the story.
Even though Turner Catledge left Mississippi as a young man to purse a Journalism career, he was always proud of his home state. He opines on the state’s reluctance to change and expresses hope for the future.
PHOTO: New York Times
Lemuel A. Wilson Junior’s parents were the owners of a weekly newspaper in Richton, Mississippi. In this episode, he shares his memories of working at the Richton Dispatch after school in the 1920s and how the paper served their community. He also recalls how their family’s newspaper survived the Great Depression by running foreclosure notices and accepting food as payment for subscriptions.
After serving in the Air Force during WWII, Wilson worked for the Washington Post and the Star newspapers in Washington, DC. In this 1973 interview he discusses the pressures of working for a large metropolitan paper and his decision to come home to Richton and take over the family business. As publisher of the Richton Dispatch, Wilson pondered the difference between daily and weekly newspapers. While both are important, he felt the weekly format better suited to rural communities.
PHOTO: Richton Dispatch Facebook page
Charles Dunagin began his career in Journalism in 1957 as a reporter for the Jackson State Times. In this episode, he remembers covering the story of the first African-American to attempt to enroll at Ole’ Miss, five years before James Meredith.
In 1963, Dunagin became the managing editor of the McComb Enterprise-Journal. He shares his memories of the newspaper’s publisher, Oliver Emmerich, who he describes as a courageous and intelligent journalist. During the Civil Rights Movement, the paper reported on over two dozen acts of violence and intimidation. Dunagin recalls the feelings of fear and anger in the city, at that time.
PODCAST EXTRA: According to Dunagin the situation in McComb finally came to a head when local business leaders published a Declaration of Principles in the paper calling for an end to the violence.
PHOTO: USM School of Mass Communication and Journalism website
Hodding Carter was the outspoken publisher of the Delta Democrat–Times during the Civil Rights Movement. In this episode, Betty Carter remembers the firestorm of threatening phone calls her husband’s editorials generated.
Hodding and Betty Carter moved to Greenville, Mississippi in 1936 and started their own newspaper. Betty Carter discusses the importance of a Free Press and an educated public to Western Democracy.
As a newspaper publisher, Betty Carter maintained her faith in the good intentions of most reporters. But she does recall times when the words of her husband, Hodding Carter, were distorted by the press.
Because Hodding Carter was such an effective and outspoken critic of segregation, he was often the target of public ire in Mississippi. Betty Carter describes a time her husband was “burned in effigy” by some angry citizens. She also praises the Greenville police department for their unwavering protection of all those involved in the Civil Rights Movement.
For over 55 years, Oliver Emmerich, Sr., was editor and publisher of the McComb Enterprise Journal. In this episode he explains his philosophy of using the editorial page to influence public opinion. During the 1960s, Emmerich used his position as an editor to promote Civil Rights. He recalls publishing a series of articles about local schools to disprove the idea of “Separate but Equal.”
Emmerich also remembers Greenville journalist, Hodding Carter, Jr., an outspoken champion of the Civil Rights Movement. He describes his friend’s refusal to conform as something uniquely American. Podcast Bonus: As an award-winning journalist, Emmerich was never shy about expressing his political opinions. He discusses his opposition to Ross Barnett and Paul B. Johnson, Jr., as well as, Mississippians’ love of demagogues.
Special Event: Please make plans to attend People, Politics and the Press on Saturday, July 14, 2018. This one-day civic engagement summit at the Two Mississippi Museums features nationally recognized names in media, as well as the region’s best reporters for panel discussions, lectures and open format conversations exploring the crucial role journalism plays in creating informed citizens and a healthy democracy. People, Politics and the Press is an unprecedented collaboration between the Mississippi Humanities Council, Mississippi Public Broadcasting, the Mississippi Press Association Education Foundation, the Clarion Ledger and Mississippi Today. For more information go to http://www.peoplepoliticspress.com