Founded in 1906, the Nashville Globe promoted self-reliance and racial solidarity as the best means for Nashville’s African American community to succeed and prosper within the confines of the Jim Crow South. After an editorial run that lasted more than five decades, the biweekly black newspaper ceased publication in 1960. The paper survived due to its strong editorials, its extensive reporting of local news and social happenings, and its state and national bulletins. Contemporaries estimated that the Globe’s readership neared twenty thousand, about one-fifth Nashville’s total population, during its first decade. From 1910 to 1930 it had the largest circulation of any black newspaper in Tennessee. The financial backing of one of Nashville’s wealthiest black families also contributed to the stability of the Globe. Richard H. Boyd, secretary of the National Baptist Publishing Board, originally financed the newspaper, and his son, Henry A. Boyd, controlled the editorial content. The Boyds had extensive contacts within Nashville’s black middle class, which made it easier to gain advertisers and readers.
The newspaper embraced the self-help message of Booker T. Washington, but at the same time it demanded constant improvements within a segregated society. The Boyds founded the newspaper during a streetcar boycott that followed the decision by Nashville authorities to extend Jim Crow laws to the city’s transportation system. The new journal reported the efforts of several black businessmen to start their own streetcar company to serve the black boycotters. The streetcar business, in which the Boyds held a stake, failed after less than a year, but the newspaper persisted. While not fully rejecting accommodation, the Boyds recognized that the expansion of Jim Crow required more diligent protection of the African American community’s interests in other areas of life.
Nothing better illustrated the Globe’s strategy of accommodative resistance than its efforts to promote black businesses. The newspaper urged Nashville’s African Americans to patronize black-owned banks and stores, asserting that such institutions would treat patrons fairly and provide opportunities for economic development, which the Globe touted as the surest means to racial advancement. Economic growth would create community cohesion, contribute to racial pride, and provide valuable skills.
The Globe promoted race pride and advancement in other ways as well. The newspaper pressed for equal educational opportunities in Nashville’s public schools. In 1909 Henry Boyd used the newspaper to promote the successful campaign for a state normal college for blacks (now Tennessee State University). Editorials stressed the importance of political participation by reminding readers to pay their poll taxes. Generally committed to the Republican Party, the Globe, at times, urged independent voting if it gave Nashville’s African Americans greater leverage. On some matters, such as its relentless urban boosterism and patriotic appeals during the World Wars, the Globe linked the success of the African American community with that of the city at large.
In their message of uplift, the Globe’s editors attempted to infuse their readers with middle-class notions of self-help and individual responsibility. Nonetheless, the newspaper also championed communitarian ideas, as the editors realized only racial solidarity could overcome the inequalities of segregation. The newspaper constantly challenged the status quo if segregation meant unequal services or opportunities. The conservative message of economic advancement and social separation, however, clashed with the direct action, integrationist dimensions of post-World War II civil rights protest. As a result, the Globe’s influence declined. The Globe stopped publishing in 1960, shortly after Henry A. Boyd’s death.