Louisiana Teacher Starts Black Newspaper Now Being Preserved

NEW IBERIA, La. (AP) — In 1985 Elaine Campbell was teaching English at New Iberia Senior High by day and

“There was not much news in The Daily Iberian for Blacks, and Blacks were doing some amazing things,” Campbell said. “But they were not being publicized. So I thought, ‘Let’s see if we can change a little bit of that.‘”

Campbell founded The Ebony Journal, Iberia Parish’s first Black-owned newspaper since Reconstruction, to fill a gap she was seeing not only in her hometown paper but across the region.

“I enjoyed reading the newspaper because it gave you a picture of what’s going on,” she said. “I wanted to give a vision for the Black communities in Acadiana.”

With the help of a few other reporters, Campbell spent her weekends covering events and interviewing people she knew in communities across Acadiana, contacts she’d made through her more than six decades of teaching in schools in Iberia and St. Mary parishes. Then she typed up the reports at home and dropped them at the printer when she’d go to her second job.

She published the newspaper for 20 years, retiring from journalism in 2005 before retiring from teaching four years later.

“I enjoyed all of it, but my hair was getting gray so I had to retire,” the 89-year-old said with a laugh.

Now the Iberia African American Historical Society is working in conjunction with archivist and digitization specialists from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ernest Gaines Center and the UL Center for Louisiana Studies to preserve Campbell’s collection of The Ebony Journal.

“I’m grateful,” Campbell said. “It will help the paper to survive.”

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