Paul Reginald Jervay Sr. was a journalist and publisher. He was the editor of North Carolina’s oldest newspaper for African Americans, The Carolinian. His grandfather was William R. Jervay, a formerly enslaved person who served in South Carolina’s State Senate during Reconstruction.
P.R. Jervay Sr. was one of eight children born to Robert Smith Jervay (1873 to 1941) and Mary Alice McNeil Jervay (1874 to 1948), a schoolteacher from Columbus County, NC. Paul’s father, Robert Smith Jervay, opened the R. S. Jervay Printing Company in 1901, and in 1927, began publishing the Cape Fear Journal from Charleston, South Carolina. P.R.’s brother was journalist Thomas Clarence Jervay, Sr., former National Newspaper Publishers Association Chairperson.
P.R. Jervay Sr. attended the Gregory Normal School, the first legal school to accept African Americans in North Carolina, established in 1868 by New England missionaries, and the Hampton Institute in Virginia, where he studied printing technology. Returning home, he helped his father run The Cape Fear Journal, which in 1945 was renamed, The Wilmington Journal. For several years he taught linotype and he worked for The Carolina Tribune in Raleigh during the late 1930s. By 1940 P.R. Jervay Sr. was owner, publisher, and editor and changed its name to The Carolinian.
The Carolinian then was a biweekly periodical, covered local, regional, and national stories relevant to the African American community, which continues to hold true to today. In a 2017 interview about the Paper, P.R. Jervay jr. acknowledged that the paper remains ‘community first’.” He said, “We may have stories about the state or nation or world, but we begin with the community. For us, that means the black community is our starting point.” Recalling his father and mentor, Jervay Sr., Paul notes that he was “an innovative businessman who constantly sought to understand and embrace new technologies.”
Paul Jervay Sr. married his college sweetheart Brenda Yancey, with whom he had two children: Paul Reginald Jervay Jr. and Prentice Carolyn Jervay Monroe. Prentice succeeded her father as publisher of The Carolinian in 1993, followed by her brother Paul in 1997. In 2016, Adria Jervay, Paul’s daughter, took over as publisher of the Carolinian.
Paul Reginald Jervay Sr. died in Raleigh, NC, on December 11, 1993. He was 87.