The Gazette was a weekly newspaper for African Americans published in Raleigh, NC, and the official publication of the North Carolina Industrial Association (NCIA). The newspaper may be a succeeding title of the North Carolina Gazette, a title begun by John H. Williamson (1844-1911) in 1884 or 1885 that also served as the official organ of the NCIA. No issues published prior to October 24, 1891 are known to exist. That issue is volume III, number 49, which suggests that the Gazette may have begun publication in 1888.
The NCIA was a civic organization created by Black leaders in 1879 to promote education for African Americans and their involvement in industry and agriculture. The group sponsored an annual fair that featured speakers and displays of new inventions and industrial devices. The fair, which ran from 1879 to 1930, was a popular gathering for African Americans in North Carolina.
In 1891, the Gazette, also known as the Weekly Gazette and the Raleigh Gazette, billed itself “The Great Negro Newspaper.” It was “the accepted organ of the Black community, who followed its advice in all matters pertaining to its welfare,” according to John Haley, a biographer of Charles N. Hunter, the newspaper’s associate editor. The Gazette circulated to 1,000 readers in 1893. Its circulation reached 1,600 by 1895.
Williamson was the Gazette‘s founding editor and publisher. He was a veteran newspaper publisher and editor, having started the Banner of Raleigh in 1881, the same year he was elected secretary of the NCIA. Williamson was also a founding partner in the Banner-Enterprise of Raleigh in 1883. He served six terms in the North Carolina legislature, becoming the longest serving African American legislator in nineteenth-century North Carolina. Williamson used the Gazette to advocate for equal rights and education for African Americans. Under Williamson’s tenure, the Gazette highlighted the Fair, urging Black and white citizens to attend. It also announced prizes and awards to would-be entrants and included letters addressed to Williamson from interested parties across the state.
Hunter (1852-1931) joined the staff of the Gazette in 1891 and remained associated with the newspaper through 1893. Hunter also brought newspaper experience to his position. He and his brother founded the Journal of Industry in 1879. That title served as the first official publication of the NCIA.
In June 1893, James Hunter Young (1858-1921) bought the Gazette. At the time of his purchase, Young was a 15-year veteran of Republican party politics in North Carolina. In 1877, he took a job in a North Carolina district office for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the predecessor to the Internal Revenue Service. His work with internal revenue allowed Young to develop political connections, and he rose quickly in his job and in the Republican party. In 1894, Young was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives on the Fusionist ticket, a coalition of North Carolina Republicans and Populists. His columns in the Gazette reflected his support of the Republican party; civil rights; and education and self-sufficiency for African Americans.
The Gazette ceased publication in 1898, a year that included a white supremacy campaign resulting in the Democratic party’s return to power in North Carolina and Young’s appointment as a colonel in the 3rd North Carolina Infantry, an all-Black regiment that served stateside during the Spanish-American War.