Black History Month Pathfinder Profile: Percival L. Prattis

Percival Leon Prattis was a journalist, activist and a catalyst for justice and equality.  He was educated at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia and Ferris Institute where he was a member of the debate team. Prattis was also a veteran who served in the United States Army during World War I.

Prattis is best known for his work as a journalist giving a voice to African Americans without a voice. His journalism career started in 1919 when he became the editor of the Michigan State News. He later moved to Chicago to became the city editor of most popular African American newspaper in the country, The Chicago Defender.

In 1925, Prattis founded The Light and Heebie Jeebies which is the first known black news magazine. Prattis started his publication nearly 20 years before the creation of Ebony magazine and 26 years prior to the introduction of Jet.

In 1936, Prattis took a job as the city editor of the Pittsburgh Courier which was an African American newspaper at the forefront of the fight against injustices during World War II. In addition to covering stories stateside, Prattis also traveled on international assignments covering stories in the Middle East, Far East and post-World War II Europe.

In 1947, Prattis, became the first African American news correspondent admitted to the press galleries of both the United States House of Representatives and the Senate.

The list of people he interviewed or corresponded with is a Who’s Who including John F. Kennedy, Haile Selassie, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malcolm X, Jackie Robinson, W.E.B Du Bois, Richard Nixon, Thurgood Marshall, Elijah Muhammad, Langston Hughes, Lyndon B. Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and a host of others.

The Ellison for Congress campaign celebrates Percival Leon Prattis for his dedication to highlighting issues impacting African Americans. Percival L. Prattis is a #Pathfinder.

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