From: (Barutiwa News Service)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.african
Subject: William Alexander Scott (1903-1934)
Date: 11 Nov 2003 20:44:39 -0800

William Alexander Scott (1903–1934)

By Baruti M. Mamau, Barutiwa Newspaper, Winter 1995

On the eve of Marcus Garvey’s deportation from the United States, in the fall of 1927, he had written and published an ingenious piece of poetry entitled The Start. This poem was regarded as a classic ideological masterpiece of determination. It was a timeless message to young and senior adults. Marcus Garvey’s poem The Start impressed everyone who read it. His poem inspired many young African American men during that time to pursue their dreams and ambition regardless of White America’s vociferous racism. One African American young man who was directly inspired by the efforts of Garvey was William Alexander Scott. W.A. Scott was twenty-four years old when he read the following verse of Garvey’s poem:

...find yourself in early age,
To know what you shall be in life;
Then go and write on hist’ry’s page
The vict’ries of your daily strife;
For every man is battling you,
To cross the plain, with haste to win—
And hoist the flag in colors blue—
Then show the world where he has been.

These eloquently expressed words of Garvey impelled William A. Scott to engender his dream of establishing an African American newspaper that would be published seven days a week.

One year before the great depression, twenty-five years old and penniless, William A. Scott founded the ATLANTA DAILY WORLD in August 1928 as a weekly newspaper. Due to his tenacity and ambition he was able to muster a sufficient amount of support from local and other progressive thinking African American men who shared similar vision and ideas like himself. As a result of their combined effort, the ATLANTA DAILY WORLD became a semi-weekly (published twice a week) in May 1930 with an enormous increase in circulation. As the momentum enhanced, with William as the driving force, the ATLANTA DAILY WORLD became a tri-weekly (published three times a week) one year later (April 1931). With astonishing back to back successes, it was inevitable that William A. Scott would meet his premiere goal of establishing a Black Daily, and the first daily to be published seven days a week. At the age of 29, March 1932, William Alexander Scott realized his goal of establishing the Atlanta Daily World as a daily newspaper published seven days a week (including Sunday); the first of its kind in the world. A former editor of the paper, in the 1930’s, wrote:

On March 13, 1932, the Atlanta World changed from a tri-weekly to a daily, publishing five weekly and one Sunday edition for each week for six weeks, when it became a seven-day daily and is now the only Negro daily and Sunday newspaper published anywhere in the world.

William wanted his daily paper to be national; hence, the Southern Newspaper Syndicate was formed, and later changed to Scott Newspaper Syndicate after his assassination by a unknown gunmen in 1934. Frank Marshall Davis, another editor of the Atlanta Daily World in the 1940’s, tells us:

Scott...possessed...a burning bitterness toward Carl Murphy of the Afro-American newspapers. Scott’s main ambition was to open a newspaper plant in Washington and publish an afternoon daily for the capital and a morning paper for Baltimore which would afford him the supreme pleasure of placing a copy each a.m. on the Murphy doorstep. W.A. Scott was trigger-brained, daring, capable and determined, and enjoyed himself most when matching wits with an opponent whether in business, sports or in mere argument... Scott began dreaming of other fields. He wanted a chain of dailies...But his sudden death—he was shot in the back by an ’unknown’ gunman as he left his garage one night in February 1934—brought an abrupt end to his dreams and touched off a family fight for control of the estate.

One important insight can be deducted about the character of William A. Scott and that is: he was indeed a highly remarkable young man. He truly set out to do as he dreamed; regardless of what others thought. And deliberately placed an exemplary perfection for subsequent generations to emulate. As contemporary poetess Na’imah Tariq espoused:

Raindrops are the ideas of a fellowship of men... Some cling, unmoving, like crystals against my window pane, but soon roll gently down, making pathways for us to follow.

Despite his short stay on earth, William Alexander Scott, was the greatest newspaper publisher of the 20th century.