Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ralph Waldo Tyler, journalist, government official

Ralph Waldo Tyler (1860–1921) was an African American journalist, war correspondent, government official. He strove for racial justice in the United States and served as the only accredited Black foreign correspondent specifically reporting on African American servicemen stationed in France during World War I. His career began in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, in the late 1880s where he held several journalistic positions including editor of the Afro-American; co-founding the short-lived African American newspaper, The Free American; contributing a Black news column and serving as society editor at the white-owned Columbus Evening Dispatch and writing for The Ohio State Journal. Tyler was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt to fill the post of Auditor of the Department of the Navy. Following his Auditor of the Navy post, Booker T. Washington and his Secretary, Emmett J. Scott, recommended Tyler to be the national organizer of the National Negro Business League (NNBL), an organization founded by Washington to engage in documenting the state of Black businesses to promote an organized and active League membership. In 1917, Tyler left this post to serve as secretary in another organization founded by Washington, The National Colored Soldiers' Comfort Committee, which provided financial support for Black soldiers and their families. Following this position, Tyler became the only African American journalist stationed overseas, reporting on Black soldiers. In 1918, a committee overseen by Emmett J. Scott, who was then serving as the Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of War, selected Tyler to be stationed in the northeast Metz region of France along with General John J. Pershing's brigade. Tyler's reports were sent back to the U.S., edited and distributed by Scott to newspapers and journals nationally. Tyler reported from the trenches at the front of the battlefield in Northeastern Metz, France. Later Scott published several of Tyler's reports in Scott's Official History of the American Negro in The World War (1919). Back in the States, Tyler's reports provided first-hand accounts of the heroic deeds of Black soldiers and boosted the morale of the troops overseas. He also documented discrimination that the Black troops faced at the hands of white American organizations and service personnel and the comparatively unbiased treatment they fared from the French. Wikipedia

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