The historic Forward Times becomes the single largest contributor of Physical African American Historical Newspapers to the African American Library at the Gregory School
ABOVE: Forward Times archives have a new home! Karen Carter Richards, Forward Times CEO and Publisher and daughter of Julius and Lenora Carter, Founder and Publishers
Anyone who has taken a tour and visited the headquarters of the historic Forward Times newspaper, located at 4411 Almeda, may have gotten the rare opportunity to see the vintage archives that have been stored at the site for decades.
The sacred books that contain the older Forward Times newspapers—from the very first edition to decades after—have sat closely guarded in the building under lock and key.
When people would come by the office or call in, hoping to find an article that was written or a picture of their relative, or a photo of themselves from years past, it would be a herculean task to try and locate.
For years, since taking over the helm of Forward Times Publishing in 2010, Karen Carter Richards has been protective of the crown jewels of her family’s legacy.
Fast forward to 2022, and she no longer has to be so guarded.
The African American Library at the Gregory School had been reaching out to the Forward Times for years to allow those precious archives to be digitized and accessible online.
After her mother, Lenora ‘Doll’ Carter, passed away in 2010, Karen was asked by her friend Roosevelt Weeks, who was then the Assistant Director of the Houston Public Library at the time, to let the African American Library at the Gregory School secure the archives in 2011. As she indicates, she just wasn’t ready to do that.
After years of saying no, now Karen and the Forward Times family has said YES! Forward Times archives have a new home!
This month, the Forward Times became the single largest contributor of physical African American historical newspapers to the African American Library at the Gregory School in its history.
Digitizing the archives has always been a desire of Karen’s, but for her, she looked at these bounded newspapers like her offspring, and didn’t want to let them go or have anything happen to them beyond her control.
“Our archives are so precious to me,” said Karen. “I’ve felt like the Protector and the Gatekeeper for so many years, making sure I took care of our rich history. My father, Julius P. Carter, died when I was 9 years old and he was a journalist, so I learned so much about him from his writings that he published from 1960 until his passing in 1971. The fact that the African American Library at the Gregory School could preserve the archives at the right temperature and get grants to digitize our papers sold it for me! That was the moment I decided it was time. This was an opportunity to save our history.”
In 2017, Miguell Ceasar, who serves as Lead Archivist at the African American Library at the Gregory School, remained persistent and stayed in constant contact with Forward Times staff.
Longtime Forward Times staff member, Joyce Jenkins, helped to connect all the dots and worked to gather the information needed to alleviate any concerns Karen may have had, and to make sure things happened seamlessly. Now, the journey has started, and the public will soon be able to access those historic archives online.
“I’m so happy for this partnership with the African American Library,” said Karen. “It is the right decision and I know that my parents would be proud that their Legacy will live on.”
The Forward Times remains the only Black newspaper in the Greater Houston area that is still operated by its founding family and is the only African American newspaper that has published and printed its own newspaper, along with publishing and printing many others in the city.
The Forward Times is the OLDEST and the ONLY Black newspaper in the Greater Houston area that has printed its newspaper consecutively, having never missed a week a print, for over 62 years. In other words, the Forward Times is the ONLY Black newspaper in the Greater Houston area that legitimately has 62 years of published and verifiable content.
Congratulations, Forward Times on this milestone achievement!