The Greenville Leader began publication in 1930. In 1938 Rev. H. H. Humes, an African American, was serving as the paper’s editor, while Levye Chappel was its publisher; by the following year, Humes had changed the paper’s name and assumed publishing responsibilities along with the H. H. Humes Publishing Company. The newspaper’s primary audience consisted of black Mississippians living in and around Greenville. In 1939 the Delta Leader was published every Saturday, and subscriptions cost two dollars per year. Like the Greenville Leader, the Delta Leader proudly displayed the phrase “Advocate of the Mid-South” at the top of each front page. The paper’s platform was “to promote the interest of the people of the Mid-South in economics, civics, education, religion, and a better relationship.” After one year of publication the Delta Leader claimed five thousand paid subscribers.
Reverand Humes utilized the paper not only to educate the public but also to further his own interests. Humes had a great desire to improve the relationship between blacks and whites but had a strong distaste for those who “irritate and agitate.” In his opinion, the friction between the races was unproductive, and he believed that blacks would fare better by setting and working toward higher goals. Delta Leader editorials frequently condemned the juvenile delinquency and lack of morals that Humes encountered among black citizens in Greenville. However, Humes also did not hesitate to publicize accomplishments of local and nationally known blacks. Humes’s effort drew some glowing local praise. In a 1939 letter to the editor, Hodding Carter, editor of Greenville’s Delta Democrat-Times, declared that the Delta Leader constituted “a fine and dignified expression of the Negro’s determination to better himself in every sphere.”
Proof of Humes’s desire to combat racial agitation by blacks is found in the records of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission. Shortly before Humes’s death in 1958 it was disclosed that he had accepted payments for services and travel expenses from the Sovereignty Commission and was indeed considered one of its most important nonwhite friends. Some black organizations in Mississippi criticized his actions, perceiving them as harming the cause of civil rights.
The Delta Leader did not attempt to lead the black population toward more political success and also did not make demands on whites in this realm. It stressed that black Mississippians should not migrate to the North but remain in Mississippi, where they had a better chance for success in life.
The full run of the Delta Leader is no longer extant. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History holds the most complete collection, which includes microfilm copies of scattered issues from 1939–41, 1943, and 1947. Microfilm copies of the issues from 1951 and 1955 are held by the Greenwood-Leflore Public Library System.
- Greenville Delta Leader newspaper
- Greenville Leader newspaper
- Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Sovereignty Commission Online website, http://mdah.state.ms.us/arrec/digital_archives/sovcom/
- Henry Lewis Suggs, ed., The Black Press in the South, 1865–1979
- WorldCat website, www.worldcat.org