Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Kenneth Campbell


John H. McCray was a political activist who served as editor of South Carolina's leading black newspaper from 1941 to 1954. After years of dormancy, the civil rights movement sprang to life in the state in the 1940s. A historian writing in the late 1950s called it 'one of the South's most dynamic and successful' campaigns, and he cited McCray's 'hard-hitting' weekly newspaper as one engine driving the effort. This study analyzed the available editions of the newspaper as well as the personal papers of McCray and his chief colleagues. Findings suggest the newspaper employed what Gamson has identified as a 'collective action frame' to spur black political engagement. The newspaper framed the civil rights struggle to emphasize African American agency and self-assertion during a time when strategies of accommodation and negotiation remained dominant in the Deep South. In the pages of their newspaper, McCray and his colleagues redefined the meaning of citizenship for black Carolinians and linked it directly to political protest and confrontation. In doing so, McCray's newspaper helped overcome a culture of accommodation that had dominated black thought in the Deep South since the days of Booker T. Washington. This study explores the origins and legacy of accommodationism in the Deep South. It argues that McCray and his colleagues had to confront this culture directly before it could forge a new path for the black freedom movement in one Deep South state.


© 2010, Sid Bedingfield