Ted Poston: Pioneer American Journalist

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9780820320205: Ted Poston: Pioneer American Journalist
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Offers a look at the life and career of the first African American reporter to work at a mainstream daily newspaper

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From Publishers Weekly:

After working as a Pullman porter, a dining car waiter and a copy boy, Ted Poston moved to Harlem at the height of the Harlem Renaissance, in 1928. Seven years later, he was hired by the New York Post and so became the first African-American staff reporter at a mainstream daily. In wonderful detail, through interviews and extensive archival research, Hauke tracks Poston from his childhood in Kentucky through his college education in Nashville (where he shoplifted his suit and hitchhiked to school), from his stint waiting tables in the famous Cotton Club to his immensely popular tenure as a reporter and city editor for Harlem's black newspaper, the Amsterdam News. In Hauke's telling, Poston's accomplishments as a reporter are staggering: he traveled to Russia with Langston Hughes and Malcolm Cowley in 1933 and, upon his return, covered the retrial of the Scottsboro boys from a segregated balcony in Decatur, Ala., because the court refused to recognize his press credentials (he posed as a minister to evade angry locals and surreptitiously passed his dispatches to a New York Daily News reporter in a bathroom stall). He wrote and edited for the Federal Writers Project during the Depression, and, at the Post, covered black culture with unparalleled access to crucial moments of American history. Friendly with porters and politicians alike, Poston wrote about black notables from Father Divine to numbers runners and his neighbor, Thurgood Marshall. In 1940, FDR selected Poston for his "Black Cabinet" and Poston remained in Washington to serve as the head of the Negro News Desk for the Office of War Information during WWII. He returned to the Post after the war and traveled frequently to the South to report on the burgeoning civil rights movement, including the first stirrings of King's bus boycott in 1955, the trial of Emmett Till's lynchers and the integration of the University of Alabama. A legendary raconteur, activist, humorist and trailblazing reporter, Poston remains one of the most underappreciated luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance. Hauke's exhaustive biography will do much to reverse that.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Reading Ted Poston's life story is akin to reading several small chapters in American history. Poston, the first black to integrate an all-white daily newspaperthe then respectably liberal New York Post in 1935was a glib, street-smart raconteur, f ond of women and fonder still of alcoholic beverages, a man equally comfortable chatting with Harlem street folk and conducting policy discussions in President Franklin Roosevelt's ``Black Cabinet,''of which he was an active member. In a career that spann ed more than 40 years, some of the highlights included coverage of the Scottsboro Boys trial (nine young black men were charged with raping two white women); the school desegregation case leading to the landmark 1954 US Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education; the Emmett Till lynching trial; and former governor George Wallace's famous stand inside an Alabama school door as he attempted to block blacks from entering. Poston died in 1974. But while he lived, he enjoyed first-name-basis re lationships with all the major civil rights figures. Later, he served as elder statesman and tutor to many young black journalists. Independent scholar Hauke has spent a decade piecing together Poston's life from archives, oral histories, and interviews; she offers a marvelous blend of the historical and the anecdotal. In her view, Poston was an enormously complex man whose quick wit and acerbic humor often disguised an embittered soul. He drank and smoked too much, married three times, and kept several w omen on the side. But nowhere does Hauke say or suggest that Poston ever pitied himself or whined about his lot as an African-American. A gem of a book on a remarkable personand his age. (24 b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associ ates, LP. All rights reserved.

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