By Jeffrey L. Boney
“Inheritance is what you leave to someone…but a Legacy is what you leave within someone.”
There is nothing like celebrating an anniversary, especially when it is one that commemorates the rich and stoic legacy of one of the longstanding pillars in the Greater Houston area—the legendary and iconic Forward Times newspaper!
The historic Forward Times newspaper published its first edition on January 30, 1960, in the office garage of the original Founder and Publisher—the late Mr. Julius P. Carter.
Thanks to the bold vision of Julius Carter, the Forward Times has continued its legacy of NEVER missing a week of print and being the most trusted voice for African Americans in the Greater Houston area for 63 years as a family business.
The idea of the Forward Times was birthed in 1955, as Julius Carter believed Houston needed a newspaper that positively reflected the African American community, while also reporting the hard truths about what was happening in our communities on the local, state, and national level.
He wanted Black people to be highlighted during a new era where it was time for African Americans in the City of Houston to move forward.
Launching a visionary newspaper like the Forward Times came to pass because of the strong business acumen and community prowess that Julius Carter had amongst Houston’s Black elite.
After initially casting his vision for the Forward Times to a group of friends in 1955, Julius Carter started investing every extra dollar he had to acquire the equipment he knew he needed to print his first tabloid-sized publication.
It was Julius Carter’s plan to print a publication that featured only photos and positive stories about Black Houstonians in that first edition, so he began doing that while continuing to run his burgeoning cigarette vending business that he operated out of his office garage. As time moved forward, the Civil Rights Movement became a focal point for Black people across the country, especially in Houston. The Forward Times became widely known for reporting the truth—without fear or favor—which was a position that was not always popular.
In 1971, after reporting a story that was not so favorable to the powers that be, the Forward Times’ building was bombed. After the bombing, Julius Carter died of a massive heart attack four days later, primarily because of all the pressure he had endured. He successfully ran the Forward Times from 1960 until his unfortunate passing in 1971.
Upon his death, Julius Carter’s wife, Mrs. Lenora “Doll” Carter, was thrust into the position of taking over the responsibility of running the Houston Forward Times in 1971. He had groomed her to take on the role of General Manager and Advertising Director and prepared her to eventually succeed him when necessary, and time came sooner than expected.
Affectionately known by many simply as “Doll” Carter, she took on the daunting task of being the Publisher and Editor of the newspaper and the CEO of the company, as a 29-year-old widow with two little girls, who were 9 and 11 at the time.
Upon taking over the daily operations of the Forward Times, many naysayers and doubters predicted, and even took bets, that “Doll” Carter would be out of business within six months. Sadly, once she successfully made it to the 6-month mark, people extended their unbelief and even made additional bets that she would not last for a year. Much to their surprise, the newspaper continued to thrive and grow tremendously under her leadership and “Doll” Carter built on the solid foundation laid out for her by her late husband.
In addition to overseeing an award-winning and historic publication, “Doll” Carter was responsible for helping the parent company, Forward Times Publishing Co., make major strides in the publishing industry across the country.
The bold decision that she made to upgrade the business by purchasing an 8-Unit Goss press with the capability of printing two color newspaper jobs at one time gave Forward Times Publishing Co. a significant edge in the regional market.
Not only was “Doll” Carter responsible for the day-to-day operations of one of the only publishing companies in the country to own its own printing press, but she was also responsible for maintaining and securing clients who owned other major newspapers and magazines in the region. One of those clients was the University of Houston Daily Cougar, which Forward Times Publishing Co. printed every single day for over 28 years.
Because of the leadership of “Doll” Carter, the Houston Forward Times newspaper reached a paid circulation of roughly 65,000 and is still one of only a few publications in the region to hold a second-class mailing permit, which gives the company the ability to mail its newspapers directly into the homes and the offices of their loyal and dedicated subscribers. During her tenure, the Houston Forward Times continued to add to its impressive resume of never missing a week of print since inception. The business celebrated over fifty years in business under her visionary and dedicated leadership from 1971 until her untimely death in April of 2010.
Karen Carter Richards is the daughter of the late Julius P. Carter and Lenora “Doll” Carter and has continued the iconic legacy of her parents. After having worked more than thirty years in the family business in various administrative and managerial positions, she has taken over the helm and transitioned the business into one of the leading multimedia companies in the country.
As a second-generation publisher, Karen has creatively expanded the mission of the Houston Forward Times and has continued her family’s publishing legacy to ensure that this nationally award-winning newspaper remains the strongest information vehicle and most trusted voice for African Americans in the city of Houston and throughout the southern region.
Karen has also been grooming her children—Jesse Frazier, Chelsea Lenora White, and Nykayla Richards—to take the helm as third-generation publishers and business owners.
Please join us in wishing the historic Forward Times newspaper a very Happy 63rd Anniversary.
Happy 63rd Anniversary, Forward Times!!!