He was the first African American editor of a white newspaper. He was a renowned speaker and defender of human rights, attacking segregation and discrimination.
John Carter Minkins came into this life on January 29, 1869 in Norfolk, Virginia. His mother died very young and he never met his white father. Raised by his grandmother, John was educated in Norfolk for eight grades and then, after spending a year in Washington, D.C., was accepted at Norfolk Mission College working at The Evening Telegram and writing a column called “Among Our Colored People.” He was able to attend Brown University where he continued to write and influence African American causes.
Moving to Providence in the 1890s he married Rosa and they had seven daughters. While working for various newspapers, John pressured the Providence YMCA into doing away with their exclusion of blacks. He covered the trial of Lizzie Borden in Fall River and kept minority issues in the headlines regardless of where he worked. In a touch of irony, his first and middle names recalled Hall of Fame member John Carter (1745-1814), editor of the Providence Gazette and Rhode Island’s foremost journalist of the Revolutionary Era.
John became owner, publisher and editor of the Rhode Island Examiner and continued his career as an activist in journalism, becoming editor-in-chief of the Providence News Democrat in 1906. In that influential post he used his skillful writing to advance the cause of blacks. For the next half century Minkins played a leading role in the crusade for equal rights and racial equality, earning the friendship and respect of Rhode Island’s political and business leaders. John Carter Minkins was the most important African American in local journalism for more than 70 years. He died on October 29, 1959 at the age of 90.
– Glenn V. Laxton