Dallas Express History | ‘Champion of Justice, Messenger of Hope’


The Dallas Express periodical | Image by The Dallas Express

As Black History Month comes to a close, The Dallas Express reflects on the legacy of its namesake and the never-ending need for journalism that challenges the status quo and the power structures of society.

The roots of the modern Dallas Express date all the way back to 1892 when William Elisha King launched a black-owned newspaper called The Dallas Bee

The “Bee” moniker would only last a year as in 1893 King would rebrand his enterprise The Dallas Express, which would go on to become the self-proclaimed oldest and largest “Negro Newspaper” in the South.

King’s Express covered the critical issues of the times for black readers, including much of the racism and discrimination that went uncovered and undiscussed in papers controlled by white publishers.

The Dallas Express did not shy away from controversy under King, regularly featuring stories about lynchings and other travesties against the black community on its front page.

Even at the risk of retribution, the paper boldly ran opinion pieces and editorials that openly condemned mob violence, segregation, and the wide-scale voter suppression efforts the black community often experienced.

The early Dallas Express’ operating motto, “Champion of Justice, Messenger of Hope,” remains a guiding light even today for the role an active and fearless media can play in our democratic society.

Another common feature of the weekly print publication was the prominence of a Frederick Douglass quotation often printed below its logo that read, “The Republican Party is The Ship, All Else is The Sea.”

King’s paper was not simply a voice for a stifled and oppressed community, but also served to document and celebrate the achievements of Black Americans in the social, political, and economic spaces during its time.

While The Dallas Express would change hands many times in the coming decades, its mission thankfully endured regardless of its owner.

In the mid-1920s, after years of successful publication, The Dallas Express suffered financially and was sold briefly to the Southwestern Negro Press, which was owned and operated by a white publisher named Travis Campbell.

Campbell would manage the Express for roughly eight years before a group of black businessmen purchased the paper and ran it for a number of decades, continuing its mission.

Ultimately, another black publisher, Carter Wesley, bought the paper but due to declining print circulation, The Dallas Express ended its remarkable run in the 1970s.

In 2021, however, The Dallas Express moniker was revitalized, and while the challenges of the day may have changed, as have the ways people consume their news, the spirit of King’s original fearless and revolutionary paper has been renewed as well.

Like King and his successors, we at The Dallas Express strive to cover the news that traditional media outlets refuse to cover, believing that our republic functions better when a genuinely free press engages in true journalism.

Every day, we strive to be a “Champion of Justice” and a “Messenger of Hope” for a new generation of The Dallas Express readers.

In the spirit of the many great publishers throughout The Dallas Express’ history, our strongest conviction is that through information and accountability, the life of every reader is improved.

Readers who are interested in seeing historical coverage from previous iterations of The Dallas Express can visit the online archives kept by the University of North Texas, or see our home page, where we regularly feature past issues of the periodical.

If you enjoyed this article, please support us today!

Formed in 2021, we provide fact-based, non-partisan news. The Dallas Express is a non-profit organization funded by charitable support and advertising.

Please join us on the important journey to make Dallas a better place!

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1 month ago

Good job. Keep the transparent and factual reporting rolling off the “presses”.

Vanette Sherrill
Vanette Sherrill
1 month ago

As a 1910-established press clipping bureau (now media monitoring), we’re excited to see the revival of your news organization. Wishing you the best of luck as you secure a foothold in the news arena.