The Grapevine of the Black South
The Scott Newspaper Syndicate in the Generation before the Civil Rights Movement
University of Georgia Press 2018
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in JournalismNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in the American SouthNew Books Network September 19, 2019 James West
In the summer of 1928, William Alexander Scott began a small four-page weekly with the help of his brother Cornelius. By 1932 the Atlanta World had become a daily paper and the basis of Scott’s vision for a massive Southern newspaper chain – the Southern Newspaper Syndicate, later renamed as the Scott Newspaper Syndicate. At its peak, more than 240 papers were associated with the Syndicate, making it one of the largest black press institutions in the country. However, the extent of the Syndicate’s reach and its centrality to Black southern life has remained largely overlooked.
In The Grapevine of the Black South: The Scott Newspaper Syndicate in the Generation before the Civil Rights Movement (University of Georgia Press, 2018), Thomas Aiello offers the first critical history of this influential newspaper syndicate, tracing its roots in the early 1930s through to its eventual dissolution in the 1950s. During this critically important period preceding the the “civil rights era” ushered in by the 1954 Supreme Court ruling on school segregation, the Syndicate helped to shape the collective identity and community networks of the Black South. While providing local editors with a large degree of control and the flexibility to emphasize regional concerns and interests, the Syndicate gave its readers a similar set of tools from which to craft their understanding of Black life and culture, a means to document racial injustice and oppression, and an unparalleled grapevine of information and news coverage.