Thomas Flemings, a journalistic pioneer
*Thomas Flemings was born on this date in 1907. He was an African-American newspaper journalist.
From Jacksonville, Florida his grandmother initially raised Fleming. At the age of 8 his family moved to Harlem, New York and in 1919 they moved to Chico, California. In 1926 he graduated from Chico High School and began working as a bellhop for the Admiral Line, (then) spending five years as a cook for the Southern Pacific Railroad. He entered journalism in the early 1930s as an unpaid writer for the Spokesman, a progressive Black newspaper in San Francisco.
During the Great Depression, he entered school as a political science major at Chico State College. In 1934, after three semesters he returned to San Francisco. In 1944 he was hired as founding editor of the Reporter, which later merged with another Black paper, the Sun, to become the Sun-Reporter. For almost 50 years Flemings wrote for the Sun-Reporter.
In July 1997, he retired as executive editor to focus on his memoirs, which have appeared in more than 60 weekly installments as "Reflections on Black History." The column is distributed by the National Newspaper Publishers Association and sent to more than 200 African-American newspapers nationwide. Also in 1997, Fleming self-published his first book, a 48-page collection of stories and photos from his early boyhood in Jacksonville and Harlem. On his 91st birthday, he published "Black Life in the Sacramento Valley 1850-1934."
A lifelong bachelor Thomas Fleming was the 1997 winner of the Career Achievement Award for Print from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and is the nation's oldest and longest-running black journalist. The co-founder in 1944 of the Sun-Reporter, he continued to write two articles a week for the paper.
Throughout his long career, he came in contact with such greats as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. DuBois, Charles Houston, A. Philip Randolph, Mary McLeod Bethune, Duke Ellington, Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm X, Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson. In 1997, Fleming received the Career Achievement Award for Print from the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Fleming passed away on November 21, 2006.
Virtual Museum of San Francisco
PMB 423 945 Taraval Street,
San Francisco, CA 94116