The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Columnist Julia Reed broke barriers

By Mit’Chell Lee/ reporter

Julia Scott Reed is mainly known as the first African-American female columnist, but SE students learned much more March 22.

University of Texas at Arlington associate professor and history department chair Marvin Dulaney talked about the Dallas native who was born Julia McGee in 1917.

Reed attended Booker T. Washington High School, the only Dallas school for black students at the time. Although the school was built for 600 students, 900 attended the school, so students went to school in shifts. Therefore, Reed had only three and a half hours of education a day.

It wasn’t until 1960 that people like Reed and missionary Maynard Jackson Sr. took a stand announcing African-Americans needed more schools, public housing and the right to vote.

In 1951, Reed started writing for the Dallas Express, an African-American paper in Dallas. In 1967, she wrote her column, The Open Line,” for The Dallas Morning News.

“She was mainly hired to show the company had diversity,” Dulaney said. “Also by setting her in front of the office, others would see her first. Reed took on the challenge.”

About 50 percent of her columns were about individuals in the African-American community. Others covered community events, politics and civil rights issues.

“She was trying to state a point in her articles that African-Americans are just the same,” Dulaney said.

One of her stories concerned a teacher, Sally Fagan, who was dismissed, but her only crime was buying a house in a non-colored community. Fagan was forced to move out of her home.

“Reed was well-known, and during her career she won many awards,” Dulaney said. “She was a professional who was well-qualified to take up major headlines.”

She wrote over 200 articles but stopped writing in 1978 after suffering a stroke. She died in 2004 at 87.

Dulaney recommended students read Texas Women: Their Histories, Their Lives if they were still curious about Reed or search Julia Scott Reed on The Dallas Morning News site for her articles.

“Reed was a bold and gutsy woman, and some of her stories were to empower,” he said. “They brought the Dallas community together and made a difference, helped black relations.”

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