The Los Angeles Sentinel, one of the oldest Black-owned newspapers in America in existence, began on this day in 1933, founded by Col. Leon H. Washington. Today, the paper enjoys the distinction of being the largest paid subscription Black-owned weekly newspaper on the West Coast, and the only paid Black-owned paper outlet in all of Southern California.
Washington, a native of Kansas, moved west in 1930 and began working for what would become a rival newspaper in The California Eagle. The Sentinel was initially called The Eastside Shopper, catering to those who lived in the Central Avenue district before Washington’s paper grew in size. After changing into The Sentinel, it became Southern California’s main link to the business happenings and dealings in the Black community.
In 1940, Washington married the Sentinel’s photographer, Ruth Washington, who became an instrumental cog in the paper’s machine after the founder and publisher’s health began to decline. However, Washington deftly maneuvered the paper to unforeseen heights in the early ’70’s, with Ruth Washington taking over as publisher and editor in 1974 after her husband’s death.
The ownership remained under the Washington umbrella until 1990 when Mrs. Washington passed, and changed hands twice with civil rights activist and businessman Danny Bakewell taking over the paper in March of 2004.
Today, the Sentinel boasts a readership of 150,000 subscribers and has won a number of honors.
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Little Known Black History Fact: Los Angeles Sentinel was originally published on blackamericaweb.com