William Alexander Scott II

William Alexander Scott II

William Alexander Scott II came to Atlanta to receive an education and ended up, at the tender age of 26, founding a newspaper that would become the first successful African-American daily in the nation. The son of a minister, Scott did not allow the presence of another Black newspaper, The Atlanta Independent, to deter him from starting the Atlanta World on Aug. 5, 1928.

The publishers of the Atlanta World have felt the need of a Southern Negro Newspaper, published by Southern Negroes, to be read by Southern Negroes, Scott wrote in the first issue. By 1930, the newspaper was one of the most widely circulated Black papers in the South. Using the Atlanta World as fuel, Scott charged ahead, establishing the first chain of African-American newspapers in 1931. The Scott Newspaper Syndicate eventually would include 50 newspapers. On March 12, 1932, Scott achieved another goal when the Atlanta World went daily. 

The renamed Atlanta Daily World delivered what other Black-owned newspapers could not  coverage of events in a timely fashion. It became the town hall meeting place where important issues of the day, as well as life’s celebrations and sorrows, were recorded and shared, wrote Scott’s granddaughter, Atlanta Daily World publisher M. Alexis Scott, seven decades later. The paper also became a tool Scott used to redress social injustices, using it, for instance, to raise funds for the nine African-American youths falsely accused of raping white girls in the infamous 1930s Scottsboro Boys trials.

The paper also sought, and received, national advertisers such as Coca-Cola at a time when such advertising was crucial to the growth of Black-owned publishing. Tragically, as Scott was climbing toward the pinnacle of his business career, his life was cut short by an assailant’s bullet in 1934. His work was carried on by his younger brother, Cornelius Adolphus Scott, who ran the publishing business for 63 years.