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Home North Carolina Halifax County City of Littleton Historical Markers Plummer Bernard Young

Plummer Bernard Young

US 158, Littleton, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 36° 27' 25.49412", -77° 52' 12.96876"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Journalist. Publisher of Norfolk Journal & Guide, 1910-1962, leading black-owned newspaper in the South. Birthplace nearby."
     North Carolina native Plummer Bernard Young (1884-1962), best known by his initials P. B., for over fifty years published the largest black newspaper in the South. P. B. Young’s father Winfield Scott Young, born into slavery, emerged after the war as a member of the African American elite in Halifax County. In 1870 he moved to Littleton on the line with Warren County and there operated a dry goods store. By 1884 Winfield Young had established in that town the True Reformer, a weekly newspaper. P. B. Young attended Reedy Creek Academy and, from 1900 to 1906, was a part-time student at Saint Augustine’s College.

     In 1907 P. B. Young, recently married, moved to Norfolk, Virginia, to take a position as plant foreman for the Journal and Guide, the newspaper owned by the Supreme Lodge Knights of Gideon, a fraternal order to which his father belonged. Norfolk in 1907 was thirty percent African American with a thriving black business community. The newspaper was then distributed to about 600 subscribers, mostly lodge members. In 1910 the Gideons sold the paper to Young for $3,050. Young increased investment in the business and by 1918, while maintaining the primary readership and advertising base in tidewater Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, had readers nationwide and was competing with black papers in Chicago and Pittsburgh. By 1935 the Norfolk Journal and Guide had forty-two employees and a readership of 35,000, the most of any black-owned paper in the South.

     Editorially Young was conservative or accommodationist, from his support of the uplift philosophy of Booker T. Washington in the 1910s through to criticism received from civil rights activists in the 1950s. Henry Lewis Suggs, who wrote a biography of Young, concluded that “three words from P. B. Young’s basic philosophy best epitomized his overall character: arbitration, negotiation, and compromise.” Young was active in the Commission of Interracial Cooperation, working with James E. Shepard, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Frank Porter Graham among others. Historian Carter Woodson and educator Charlotte Hawkins Brown were among the contributors to his newspaper. For ten years Young served as trustee chairman of Howard University and Hampton Institute.

Henry Lewis Suggs, P. B. Young, Newspaperman: Race, Politics, and Journalism in the New South, 1910-1962 (1988)
Thomas C. Parramore, Norfolk: The First Four Centuries (1994)
Jeffrey J. Crow, Paul D. Escott, and Flora J. Hatley, A History of African Americans in North Carolina (1992)
Plummer Bernard Young Historical Marker Location Map, Littleton, North Carolina