Randolph Miller, former slave and newspaper editor, was emancipated with hundreds of other African Americans on June 9, 1864, in Newton County, Georgia, as General William T. Sherman’s army swept through the region. Miller came to Chattanooga in October of the same year and soon took a job as the pressman for the Chattanooga Gazette. Miller spent a few years in Richmond, Virginia, but returned to Chattanooga and became the pressman for the Chattanooga Times, which was edited and published by Adolph S. Ochs. In 1898 Miller started his own newspaper, the Weekly Blade, probably with the quiet support of Ochs.
Miller was well known in both the white and black communities for his flamboyant personal and editorial style, and he advanced his strong values from the columns of his newspaper. His relentless condemnation of racial segregation and civil rights restrictions was highlighted by his response to a 1905 Tennessee law segregating public transportation. Predating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by fifty years, Miller and other black leaders in Chattanooga launched a briefly successful boycott of the streetcars. Miller subsequently editorialized that year: “They have taken our part of the library; they have moved our school to the frog pond; they have passed the Jim Crow law; they have knocked us out of the jury box; they have played the devil generally; and what in thunder will they do no one knows.” (1)
Plagued by ill health and overwork, Miller stopped publication of the Blade after twelve years. He died at the reported age of eighty-six in 1916 and is buried in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Chattanooga.