The Washington Informer turns 58 on Oct. 16.
Fifty-eight years ago, the local Black Press consisted of the Afro-American, of course, along with the Capital Spotlight, the New Observer and the Washington Sun.
In a city that was still very segregated, the door remained partially closed to Black journalists at the Washington Post, the Washington Star and the Daily News. But the news was all about civil rights, equality and equity and local Black publishers felt the responsibility to focus their attention on voting rights, civil rights, fair housing, school desegregation and police brutality.
Informer Publisher Calvin W. Rolark Sr. came to D.C. in the late 1950s. He served in the U.S. Army and fought alongside his brother in the Korean War. He faced racism and discrimination there but it was nothing like what he grew up with in his hometown of Texarkana, Texas, where the lynching of Black men was commonplace and not against the law.
Up North, especially in Washington, D.C., the expectation that things would be different was met with the reality that racism existed here, too. It was omnipresent because it was simply the American way.
In a city with a significant Black population, one of Rolark’s earliest headlines announced D.C. Government Run by Suburban White Folks. When Rolark joined the Black United Front, it was there that he encountered like-minded change agents, including Marion Barry, Channing Phillips, Stokely Carmichael, Willie Hardy and many others.
Their struggle for self-determination or self-governance demanded the Informer’s attention, just as the current fight for statehood remains front and center coverage by the Informer.
For the past 58 years, The Washington Informer has sought to be the watchdog that gives voice to those calling for an end to discrimination and supporting movements demanding equitable civil and human rights. The struggle is far from over. The Informer staff is committed to speaking the truth to power and covering the stories that matter to our readers today.