C. F. Richardson, Sr. Papers MSS.1457
Clifton Frederick Richardson was a Black editor/publisher, journalist, political activist and civic booster in Houston during the period of 1911-1939. Both his editorial/journalist career and political activist activities can be defined using the titles of four of the publications he edited: “Watchman, Observer, Informer and Defender.”
Mr. Richardson was born in Marshall, Texas, on October 30, 1892, as the youngest of the three children of Charlie, a laborer, and Bettie, a housewife. He graduated with honors from Bishop College in Marshall, Texas, in June 1909, with a degree in journalism and printing. While there, he was the first editor of the weekly college publication, The Louisiana Watchman.
Mr. Richardson married his childhood sweetheart, Ruby Leola Rice, on June 13, 1909, in Marshall, Texas. After graduating from Bishop College, he and his wife moved to Dallas in 1910, where he was employed as a printer with the Dallas Express.
In 1911, he moved his family to Houston due to a request from Professor E. D. Pierson to work with the Western Star. In March 1916, William N. Nickerson Jr., Clifton F. Richardson Sr., R. T. Andrews and Campbell A. Gilmore founded the Houston Observer and he became the first manager-editor of the paper. On May 2, 1919, he founded and became the editor of The Houston Informer. On October 11, 1930, Mr. Richardson founded and became editor/publisher of the Houston Defender.
Mr. Richardson was an officer or co-founder of the following businesses, fraternal, political and civic organizations: American Mutual Benefit Association Inc. (partner), the Safety and Loan Brokerage Company (vice-president), Houston Community Chest (director of a 1925 charity drive), National Negro Business League (executive committee) , the Houston Negro Chamber of Commerce (one of the founders and first vice-president) , Texas Association of Negro Musicians for South Texas (district director), Coleridge-Taylor Choral Choir (president), Houston Colored Commercial Club (executive secretary), Houston Independent Voters Leagues/Progressive Voters’ League (one of the founders), Black and Tan Party of Harris County (co-founder in the 1920s), Real Building and Loan Association (president), Houston Negro Business League (president), Bethel Baptist Church (chairman of the board of trustees), Bethel Baptist Church (director of the School Choir), Bethel Baptist (soloist with the senior church choir), Bethel Baptist Church (teacher of the men’s Bible class), Webster-Richardson Publishing Company (president), grand president of several “Juneteenth Celebrations,” Southern Collegiate Conference Texas (official umpire for all games played at Prairie View State College). He was a member of the following organizations: Ancient Order of Pilgrims and United Brothers of Friendship, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, and the Y. M. C. A.
Mr. Richardson was a vocal supporter of civil rights, writing many articles on the issue in his various publications. He was a founding member of the Civic Betterment League (CBL) of Harris County, and founding member and later president of Houston’s NAACP chapter. He endured threats of violence and an attack on the Houston Informer newspaper office for his activism.
Clifton F. Richardson died of kidney failure in August 1939. His funeral procession was one of the largest in Houston’s history. In a tribute to Mr. Richardson at his death, Miss M. E. B. Isaacs, society editor, stated “If I could write his epitaph, I would inscribe upon his tombstone-Clifton F. Richardson, Negro Journalist and fearless defender of the Black Man’s Rights.”
Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the C. F. Richardson, Sr. Papers must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.
C. F. Richardson, Sr. Papers. MSS 1457. Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library.
Donated by: Leon Richardson, 2008.
Processed by: Amber Seely, May 2008.
A portion of this collection has been digitized and is available through the Houston Area Digital Archives. Please view the digitized material at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/search/collection/archival!images/searchterm/Richardson/field/all/mode/all/conn/and/order/nosort/ad/asc
An oral history related to this collection is available at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/Interviews/id/15/rec/1
Other digitized material related to this collection is available at: http://digital.houstonlibrary.org/timeline/richardson.html
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