Horace Roscoe Cayton spent nearly all his life combating racism. The child of a Mississippi slave, Cayton came of age during the Reconstruction and post-Reconstruction eras and had already cultivated strong opinions on human, political, and civil rights by the time he settled in Seattle, Washington in 1890. Using his weekly newspapers The Seattle Republican (1894-1913) and Cayton’s Weekly (1916-1920) as major weapons, he fought ferociously for the rights of African Americans. Because of his fearless reporting, Cayton faced threats on numerous occasions, including an arrest in 1901 ordered by Seattle Chief of Police W.L. Meredith and a 1918 “visit” by a U.S. special prosecutor for supposedly seditious editorials published during World War I.
In addition to his publishing activities, Cayton was deeply involved in community affairs throughout his life. He was a charter member of the (Seattle) Negro Business Men’s League; an executive committee member of the King County Colored Republican Club; and a founder and executive committee member of the Seattle, Washington branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Cayton served as a Republican County Convention delegate on numerous occasions between 1900 and 1920. He also helped raise money for the Mt. Zion Baptist Church new building construction fund by publishing a souvenir edition of Cayton’s Weekly on May 22, 1920.
Horace Cayton’s newspaper reports on the activities of Washington’s black residents now serve as instructive historical resources. Realizing it or not, Cayton served as an historian of Washington’s early black history. Cayton died in Seattle, Washington at on August 16, 1940. He was 81 years old.