Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


School of Journalism and Mass Communications

First Advisor

Kathy Roberts Forde


This study analyzes news coverage of civil rights lawyer Matthew J. Perry Jr. by the South Carolina's largest newspaper, the (Columbia, SC) State at three points in his career as a lawyer, political candidate, and federal judge. At each point, Perry's legal and political work in the African American freedom struggle challenged the boundaries of the socially and politically legitimate in South Carolina and the Deep South. Perry negotiated the way forward with white officials. He helped African Americans achieve access to education, political office, and the administration of justice, and in the process helped reshape the racial caste system in the state. His efforts helped change dominant white supremacist notions of black achievement from being unacceptable to acceptable, and along the way, he himself moved from being a controversial figure to a consensus figure. Perry's political and social commitments remained the same, as did those of the African American freedom movement in South Carolina, but white society changed in response to the demands and persuasions of the movement, and Perry was a key actor in this movement. The State's coverage of Perry's legal and political career from the early 1960s through the end of the 1970s demonstrates this change.

Included in

Communication Commons