The "Mobile Beacon and Alabama Citizen": An advocate for its community for fifty years

Alma Ruth Oliver Corley


The Mobile Beacon and Alabama Citizen is a family-owned black newspaper in Alabama that has published once a week without fail over a fifty-six year time span. The paper was founded by Frank P. Thomas, Jr. and Lancie Mae Black Thomas in November 1943 and has continued until the present. When the newspaper was started, Alabama was still a racially segregated society and black people commonly had limited access or no access to voting, education, skilled jobs or housing other than substandard housing. The purpose of this dissertation is to report how the newspaper presented reality to its readers in its news columns between 3 June 1944 and 28 May 1994 and to report the editorial positions it adopted relating to dominant issues of the day. The study focuses on these issues: Black Participation in War, Voting Rights and Black Political Power in Alabama, Crime and Education in the Black Community, and Housing and Employment Issues for Blacks in Alabama. The newspaper is quoted liberally so that language can be noted as well as message. Most factual information is from the newspaper itself, but where Lancie Thomas has personal recollection about an event or situation, her personal commentary is included. The newspaper has published under four names: The Alabama Black Citizen and The Tuscaloosa Weekly Review, The Alabama Citizen and The Tuscaloosa Weekly Review, The Alabama Citizen and The Mobile Beacon and Alabama Citizen , the name in use since 5 October 1963. The dissertation follows the progressive journalism history research method with some additional use of oral history.