Almena Lomax, founder of the Los Angeles Tribune and highly regarded civil rights advocate, died in Pasadena on March 25. She was 95.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Lomax’s death was confirmed by her son, Michael, who serves as president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund.
Lomax was born Hallie Almena Davis in Galveston, Texas in 1915. After relocating to Chicago, her family later moved again to Los Angeles. She attended L.A.’s Jordan High School and then studied journalism at Los Angeles City College.
Lomax later sought employment at a major daily newspaper, but went to work for the California Eagle, a Black weekly.
“They were taking them out of as fast as they learned who, what, when, where and how, but nobody would hire me,” she said in a oral history recorded for California State University in 1967, according to the Associated Press.
While writing for the Eagle and hosting a radio program, Lomax borrowed $100 from her future husband’s father and founded the Tribune. The weekly newspaper was famous for its intrepid reports against Los Angeles racism and operated for two decades.
The Washington Post honored Lomax in 1946 with their Wendell L. Willkie Awards for Negro Journalism for a column she wrote fighting the stereotype of Black males’ sexual prowess.
As her status grew, she challenged a bevy of racial issues in Hollywood. In 1952, she led boycotts against the movies “Imitation of Life” and “Porgy and Bess,” because she believed they depicted stereotypes against Blacks.
In 1956, Lomax left L.A. to meet the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and cover the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. While Tribune readers supported the trip, her husband objected to it and the issue forced a wedge between the two.
The couple later divorced and, after closing the Tribune, she and her children relocated to Tuskegee, Ala. where, at the time, racism was rampant. While the family wasn’t harmed during their stay in the South, Michael told the Times that he and his siblings were traumatized by the experience.
Returning to California, Lomax wrote for the San Francisco Examiner and became the first Black person to write for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, according to the L.A. Watts Times. She covered famous events in the San Francisco Bay area including the search for Black activist Angela Davis.
After Lomax’s death, veteran civil rights lawyer Leo Branton Jr. reflected on her legacy to the Times.
“She was a terrific writer,” he told the newspaper. “She didn’t soft pedal anything.”