SC NAACP seeks slavery apology from newspaper - | WBTV Charlotte

SC NAACP seeks slavery apology from newspaper

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - At first glance, past ads connected to slavery may have you doing a double take.

They come from one of the South's oldest newspapers still serving communities in the Carolinas.

The Augusta Chronicle's reach extends into towns like North Augusta, South Carolina. That's why state NAACP President Lonnie Randolph wants the paper to issue an apology for content it ran in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Augusta-based Morris Communications owns the Chronicle, and Randolph feels pointed remnants of this disturbing past need to be examined. 

“They need to look at their history,” he said. “It will be difficult but they need to make an attempt to be straightforward and honest, and admit the wrongs that have been committed in your legacy,” said Randolph. 

 Several years ago, Connecticut's Hartford Courant did just that by offering an apology for running similar ads. 

Dr. Tom Hanchett, staff historian with the Levine Museum of the New South, offered some context. “Newspapers in the 19th century were blatantly political,” he said. The Chronicle's pro-slavery editorials often made that point. One Civil War column said, “the Negro race shows them to be physically, mentally, and morally inferior to the white race.”

Observers say publications during that time were less than inclusive. 

“Today we expect newspapers to be objective, to show the multiple sides to have many voices. That was not the expectation in the years before the civil war,” Hanchett said.

South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn says not to expect an apology. "The Augusta Chronicle, I know that newspaper very well,” the congressman told WBTV. “Let's talk to the people who are buying the paper or the products the paper is advertising. That's where we ought to expend our energy.”

The publisher declined multiple interview requests, but the Chronicle's president Dana Atkins did respond by email. "As most people know newspapers are repositories of the history, good and bad, of the locations where they were published.  I will be interested to know if anyone takes issue with that and why," wrote Atkins.

Meanwhile, Randolph feels these ads deserve a conversation. “It's good to talk about these issues and problems." If you don't talk about them, they won't be fixed.”

Morris Communications, which owns the Augusta Chronicle, has business interests in Charlotte. They are the parent company for Charlotte Magazine and Charlotte Wedding.

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