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New venture should shed name taken by historic African-American paper

It would be a demonstration of his professionalism for David Jacobs to rename his newly launched neighborhood newspaper, The Boston Guardian (“Publisher criticized for using name of historic African-American paper,” Business, April 26).

William Monroe Trotter’s Boston newspaper, The Guardian, published from 1901 until the 1950s, stands as a major landmark in the history of African-American journalism. It was a civic, political, and cultural force in Boston, throughout New England, and nationally.

Trotter and his newspaper fought against racism on many fronts, from lobbying for antilynching bills in Congress to powerful reporting on the 1931 trials of the Scottsboro boys. Invited to the White House to discuss President Wilson’s segregationist policies, Trotter argued his case so forcefully that Wilson took offense and asked him to leave.

It’s bizarre and unbecoming of Jacobs, knowing what he does now about his paper’s name, to persist with a Guardian published for the wealthy Back Bay and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. Let us hope that his regard for history, and a thoughtful recognition of Boston’s complex racial dynamics, past and present, will lead him to rethink his “Heck no” response to changing the name of his paper.


Marilyn Richardson

The writer is a former curator of the Museum of African American History in Boston.