Negro Star among first newspapers to give voice to Black community in Wichita

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 12:21 AM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Negro Star newspaper was one of the first Black newspapers in Wichita in the early 20th Century. Charles McAfee reflects on the significance it played in connecting the city’s Black community. McAfee’s late wife, Gloria, was related to the former newspaper’s owners, Hollie T. (known as H.T.) and Virginia Sims.

“They would just talk about all of the stories of growing up on Mississippi. Going through what they went through, why they felt like they needed to create a newspaper to tell the stories, because nobody was telling their stories. It wasn’t in print,” McAfee said. “So there was this need for news.”

The Simses started publishing the newspaper in Mississippi, but moved it to Wichita after the town in which they lived made the family feel unwelcome.

“In Canton, Mississippi right after World War I, they wrote an article about returning Black soldiers from World War I and the Ku Klux Klan came and burned the newspaper down,” McAfee said.

In Wichita, the Simses published the newspaper from their home.

“(They) lived in the 1200 block of Wabash, in the middle of the block on the west side of the street and started the Negro Star all over again in the garage, and it lasted 20 something years,” McAfee said.

The newspaper was important to the community as it was the only place Black residents in Wichita could get their stories and accomplishments published.

“The newspaper was one of the only motivating factors that we could pick up and read,” McAfee said.

He said the newspaper gave the Black community hope. But even though The Negro Star received community support, it was difficult to keep it running. The paper was published until H.T. died in 1953. Although other Black newspapers were established by then, McAfee said losing one of the first in Wichita was a major loss to the community.

“The newspaper was the only place we had to keep up with anything that was going on,” he said.

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