Roscoe Dunjee (1883-1965)

Roscoe Dunjee
Fair use image

Roscoe Dunjee was a prolific journalist and civil rights activist. He was the son of Rev. John William Dunjee, a Baptist minister, and Lydia Ann Dunjee. Although his father was born in Jefferson County, West Virginia, Roscoe worked for various African American newspapers in Oklahoma while attending Langston University.

In 1915, Dunjee founded his own newspaper in Oklahoma City entitled the Black Dispatch which became one of the most prominent black newspapers in America. Throughout his life, in the Black Dispatch Dunjee wrote confrontational editorials attacking the institution of Jim Crow, encouraged African Americans to vote and fight for their Civil Rights, and named his paper the Black Dispatch because whites had degraded the term to refer to African Americans as gossipers and liars. Dunjee chose to invert the term “black dispatch” as something honorable concerning the image of African Americans.

Dunjee’s activism did not end with his journalism. He also became involved in many local and national organizations. He supported organizations such as the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Oklahoma Youth Legislature; Oklahoma Federation for Constitutional Rights; National Negro Business League; and during WWII was elected to the Oklahoma Council of Defense, Negro Division. Dunjee supported Ada Lois Sipuel and Jess Hollins in their fight against Jim Crow racism and backed the NAACP in two Supreme Court cases, Sipuel v. Board of Regents of University of Oklahoma (1948) and Hollins v. Oklahoma (1935).

Dunjee led an honorable life in fighting institutional racism, and edited the Black Dispatch for forty years until his death in 1965. In 1969 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalist Hall of Fame at Central State University.