Excerpted from The Grapevine of the Black South: The Scott Newspaper Syndicate in the Generation Before the Civil Rights Movement by Thomas Aiello. Copyright © 2018 University of Georgia Press. Used with permission of the publisher, University of Georgia Press. All rights reserved.
W.A. Scott was a simpleton. That’s what the veteran journalists all said. He had been a hosiery salesman, a brush salesman, an umbrella salesman. After a stint as a railroad mail clerk, he had tried his hand at publishing city directories in Jacksonville. He had come to Atlanta in 1928 to try it again.
Ric Roberts was one of the veteran journalists, the managing editor and art editor of the Mirror Publishing Company’s magazine, headquartered as were so many black businesses on Auburn Avenue. Roberts was at the soda fountain of the Yates and Milton Drug Store when the young upstart approached him. The normally brooding Scott seemed happy. “Say, Ric,” he said. “I’m going to print a newspaper.” The dreams of a simpleton. Roberts tried to explain the financial outlay required for such an endeavor, but Scott seemed unfazed. “I don’t need a lot of money. It will be a healthier way to start. I won’t waste money. I’ll use just enough to get going and then I’ll work and work and work. See? Now you make me up some headings and things and I’ll pay you just as soon as possible.” That night, Roberts set the masthead for the Atlanta World. Within two weeks, the first edition appeared.1 The new grapevine of the New South had begun to grow.
William Alexander Scott, Jr., was born on September 1, 1902 in Edwards, Mississippi, the second son of Reverend William Alexander Scott, a pastor of the Christian church, and his wife. He originally attended Edwards public schools before moving to Jackson to continue his education. His father moved to the big city to create the Ferry Street Christian Church, and in 1914, the young W.A. would be the first person baptized in the new venue. Ultimately, though, Scott would complete his secondary education at the high school department of Jackson College when he was seventeen, supplementing his work by becoming secretary to the school’s president, Z.T. Hubert. He showed an early aptitude for music and often accompanied his father to revival meetings around the state, where he would play the organ. After two years at Jackson, he transferred to Morehouse in 1925, where he was quarterback of the football team and a star on the debate team. W.A. always had a friendly rivalry with his older brother Aurelius. Aurelius went to Morehouse first, also starring on the football team and the debate team. His success is what convinced W.A. to attend, as well.
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Source: Atlanta Studies