195 Years of the Black Press
By Jeffrey L. Boney, Forward Times Associate Editor for NNPA Newswire
The spirit of Black journalism, which was inspired by Russwurm and Cornish, found its way to Houston 128 years later through a vision given to a local Black businessman to birth a newspaper that positively reflected the Black community, while also reporting the hard truths happening in our communities on the local, state, and national level.
After initially casting his vision to a group of friends in 1955, entrepreneur Julius P. Carter started investing every extra dollar he could from his cigarette vending business that he operated out of his office garage, into the equipment he needed to print his first tabloid-sized publication.
It was Mr. Carter’s plan to print a publication that featured only photos and positive stories about Black Houstonians in that first edition.
Thanks to his bold vision, the Forward Times newspaper published its first edition on January 30, 1960, out of his office garage.
“The idea of launching a newspaper like the Forward Times came about because of my father’s strong business acumen and community prowess amongst Houston’s Black elite,” said Karen Carter Richards, CEO and Publisher of the Forward Times and NNPA Chair.
“My father wanted Black people to be highlighted during a new era where it was time for African Americans in the City of Houston to move forward, and he did that successfully from the founding of the newspaper to his passing in 1971.”
Mr. Carter successfully ran the Forward Times from 1960 to 1971.
In 1971, after reporting a story that was not so favorable to the powers that be, the Forward Times’ building was bombed.
After the bombing, Mr. Carter died of a massive heart attack, only four days later, primarily because of all the pressure he had endured.
Upon his death, Mr. Carter’s wife, Lenora “Doll” Carter took the helm at the Forward Times in 1971.
Affectionately known by many simply as “Doll” Carter, she took on the daunting task of being the Publisher and Editor of the newspaper and the CEO of the company, as a 29-year-old widow with two little girls, who were 9 and 11 at the time.
“The bold decision that my mother made to upgrade the business by purchasing an 8-Unit Goss press with the capability of printing two color newspaper jobs at one time gave Forward Times Publishing Co. a significant edge in the regional market,” said Karen Carter Richards.
“Not only was she responsible for the day-to-day operations of one of the only publishing companies in the country to own its own printing press, but she was also responsible for maintaining and securing clients who owned other major newspapers and magazines in the region.
“One of those clients was the University of Houston Daily Cougar, which Forward Times Publishing Co. printed every single day for over 28 years.”
Because of the leadership of “Doll” Carter, the Forward Times newspaper reached a paid circulation of roughly 65,000 and is still one of only a few publications in the region to hold a second-class mailing permit, which gives the company the ability to mail its newspapers directly into the homes and the offices of their loyal and dedicated subscribers.
During her tenure, the Forward Times continued to add to its impressive resume of never missing a week of print since inception.
The business celebrated over fifty years in business under her visionary and dedicated leadership from 1971 until her untimely death in April of 2010.
The Forward Times remains the only Black newspaper in the Greater Houston area that is still operated by its founding family and is the only Black newspaper in the Greater Houston area that has printed its newspaper consecutively, having never missed a week a print, for over 62 years.