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Founded in 1904 by prominent African American leader Matthew T. Whittico, the McDowell Times developed into one of West Virginia's foremost African American newspapers in the early 20th century. The Tmes offered a voice to the black community in southern West Virginia and proved a firm supporter of local Republican politics. The paper continued publication until shortly after Whittico's death in 1939.

  • Matthew T. Whittico, editor of the influential African-American McDowell Times

Born in Virginia and educated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Matthew Thomas Whittico moved to Keystone, WV around 1900. Purchasing a local newspaper, he launched the McDowell Times, dedicated to "the interest of the Negro Race-His Social and Political Rights." The paper became one of the most prominent African American newspapers in the region, boasting a circulation of nearly 5,000. It reported on a wide variety of news from across the nation and was a member of the National Negro Press Association.

Besides providing a source of African American news, Whittico utilized the McDowell Times to rally black West Virginians to the Republican Party. Despite West Virginia's small African American population, McDowell County enjoyed a growing black community due to the labor demands of nearby coal mines. Whittico helped make these voters an important voting block within West Virginia Republican politics and served on both the Keystone City Council and the Republican Party state executive committee. Whittico also proved critical of Socialist and labor movements in the region and voiced support for the coal industry.

The McDowell Times ceased publication shortly after Whittico's death in 1939. The newspaper has been digitized by West Virginia University and can be viewed on Chronicling America.

1. Sullivan, Ken "M. T. Whittico." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 25 September 2017. Accessed June 1, 2020.

2. "About the McDowell Times." Chronicling America. Accessed June 1, 2020.

3. Myers, Mark S. "McDowell County." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 10 March 2014. Accessed June 1, 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Courtesy of e-WV and the West Virginia State Archives