‘Viciously racist’ coverage prompts Md. newspaper hall of fame ouster

BALTIMORE (AP) — A regional press organization said it has removed a mid-20th century Maryland newsman from its Hall of Fame after a review of his work found writings that were racist and even promoted lynching.

Edward J. Clarke, the longtime owner and editor of the Worcester Democrat newspaper on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, was inducted into the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Press Association’s Hall of Fame in 1954. But last week, the group’s board of directors voted unanimously to terminate that honor after a University of Maryland journalism student uncovered Clarke’s editorials, The Baltimore Sun reported.

“The MDDC Press Association board condemns in the strongest terms the ideas expressed in Clarke’s writing and in his newspaper coverage, which also was racist,” according to a statement the organization released Wednesday.

Gabriel Pietrorazio exposed writings by Clarke that likened the Black suspects in a 1940 homicide to “a rabid dog,” “a disease-spreading germ” and “garbage.” Clarke called for “a good stout rope, a noose at one end, good stout arms at the other, a neck and a limb of a tree” as the best way to deal with the “fiends who violated the home” of a white couple in Pocomoke City.

“Clarke and his repugnant views are banished from any place of stature or honor within our association,” added Rebecca Snyder, the association’s executive director. Snyder called it disheartening that some who made the decision to honor Clarke probably knew something about his racist views, but there are no records of the criteria they used or what they were thinking.

Pietrorazio’s work is part of “Printing Hate,” a collaborative research project at the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. Journalism students from seven colleges and universities across the country are reviewing racist media coverage of the past as part of the project. Clarke’s picture has been removed from the hall of fame display at the University of Maryland.

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