191 Year Celebration of The Black Press

Floyd “Pressboy” Adams
Floyd “Pressboy” Adams

In recognition of the 191-Year Celebration of the Black Press in America, we will acknowledge those persons and organizations locally who have been integral in promoting and sustaining the Black Press over the years. Included are the founders of the The Savannah Tribune, John H. Deveaux, Louis B. Toomer, Sr., and Louis M. Pleasant; founder of the Chicago Defender, the first Black daily newspaper in the Country, Robert Sengstacke Abbott; John H. Sengstacke, also of the Chicago Defender and founder of the National Newspaper Publishers Association in 1940; Floyd “Press Boy” Adams, founder of the Herald of Savannah; and the 67-year old Southern Regional Press Institute at Savannah State University. (Content from W.W. Law and His People – A Timeline and Biographies by Charles Lwanga Hoskins)

“Floyd Pressboy Adams was born in Savannah March 9, 196, the son of Lincoln and Mazie Adams and was orphaned before the age of 10, when both Mazie Adams Hamilton and his stepfather died leaving him and two younger siblings in the card of relatives…. Adams was determined to help earn his keep. He performed a number of odd jobs before stumbling unto the one that would change the course of his life and lead to him becoming…” one of the founders of the Herald, along with Albert Reed, Houston Tolbert, and Gus Hayes. The Herald published it first edition in April 1946, and by 1949, Adams became sole owner and publisher.

Novella C. Holmes
Novella C. Holmes

“Pressboy” is a nickname which was given Adams because of how he handled his job, starting at age 12, “…carrying and then throwing stacks of newspapers from the back of the Savannah Evening Press trucks. Evidently, as he seriously and methodically delivered the stacks of newspapers to vendors with a special toss from the Evening Press truck, the vendors would say, “…here comes Pressboy,” and the nickname helped define him. Adams learned the printing trade and newspaper publishing from African American mentors with whom he worked, such as Houston Tolbert, master printer at the Savannah Journal and in the mailroom at the Savannah Evening Press, operated by blacks such as Walter Bogan. “Although the structures of Savannah’s segregated society made it difficult for blacks to excel in publishing, with the help of his mentors, 30-year-old Adams became the most successful black printer in Savannah.” “…During the 1960’s, the Savannah Herald was the only black newspaper in town.”

The Herald is a family owned and operated newspaper with a distinctive printing operation. Since Adams, Sr., acquired ownership, family members have been at the helm of leadership: the late Mrs. Wilhelmenia A. Adams (wife), the late Honorable Mayor of Savannah, Floyd Adams, Jr.(son), and presently, Kenneth Adams and Khristi Adams-Chisholm (grandchildren). Floyd Pressboy Adams, Sr., and the Savannah Herald have been key to the viability and sustainability of 191 Years of the Black Press in America and in Savannah, GA.

The Southern Regional Press Institute (SRPI) at Savannah State University originated in 1951 as an Annual Press Workshop organized by Miss Luetta Colvin (Dr. Luetta Colvin Millege) for members of the Savannah State College (now University) Press Club. The late Col. Wilton C. Scott, director of public relations at the college, 1952-1972, expanded upon the concept of the workshop and founded the First Annual Statewide Interscholastic Press Institute in April 1952, bringing SSU students and students interested in journalism from local and regional schools for a one-day workshop on the college campus.

Novel- la Cross Holmes, recently retired SSU associate professor, Department of Mass Communications, directed the Institute for an accumulative period of 22 years between 1986 and 2018. Under her leadership, the Press Institute grew in size, statue and notoriety. Several components were added which significantly enhanced the Institute’s program offerings such as, an SRPI Planning Committee, a regional job fair, additional experiential workshops, the Luetta Colvin Millege Awards Luncheon and the Louise Lautier Owens Press Institute Luncheon, and the Louis R. Lautier Memorial Award for Career Achievement and the Louis M. Corsetti Award for Excellence in Journalism. Professor Cross Holmes is also a part of The Savannah Tribune’s history, having the distinction of serving as general manager/editor 1975-1976.

1 thought on “191 Year Celebration of The Black Press”

  1. Thank you for this article. My great grandfather is Houston Tolbert I who was the master printer. I have a old photo of him and Pressboy in a photo booth. Hopefully one day I can come all the way down and have a tour of the place! Thank you

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