Durham’s Civil Rights Heritage

Jun. 08, 2013 @ 06:15 PM

As editor and publisher of Durham's historically black newspaper, The Carolina Times, Louis Austin was a spokesman for black rights decades before the Montgomery bus boycott or Brown v. Board of Education, in a time when the Ku Klux Klan was an active threat.

Originally sports editor for Durham’s Standard Advertiser, Austin borrowed the money to purchase a controlling share of the newspaper in 1927, renaming it The Carolina Times and giving it the motto, “The Truth Unbridled.” Durham historian Jean Anderson describes Austin as "an indefatigable crusader for justice and civil rights … of a new class of blacks who kowtowed to no one, and he made the paper an unrelenting crusader for all black causes, including in his coverage news that bore on race relations from all over the nation."

Forceful but fair-minded, Austin was the president of newspaper from 1927 until his death on June 12, 1971. He was a president of the Durham branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a founder of the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs (now the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People).

The paper is still being published today by Austin’s grandson, Kenneth Edmonds.