[Congressional Record Volume 151, Number 16 (Tuesday, February 15, 2005)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E235]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                       HONORING THOMAS C. FLEMING


                            HON. BARBARA LEE

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, February 15, 2005

  Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the extraordinary 
contributions of Thomas C. Fleming, an icon in the history of African-
American journalism. Tom has led a distinguished career as a print 
journalist for more than 70 years, working during the majority of that 
time for the African-American newspaper he co-founded in 1944, the San 
Francisco Sun-Reporter. On this date, the day before his 97th birthday, 
Tom will be recognized in a ceremony marking not only the renaming of 
the library at New College of California, East Bay in his honor, but 
also a lifetime of truly outstanding achievement and leadership within 
the black community as well as the journalistic profession.
  Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Tom spent his early childhood years 
there with his grandmother, who he believes was a former slave. He then 
spent a brief period living in Harlem during the years leading up to 
World War I, before finally moving to Chico, California in 1919. Upon 
his graduation from Chico High School in 1926, Tom worked as a bellhop 
for the Admiral Line, and then as a cook for Southern Pacific Railroad 
before entering the field of journalism in the 1930s as an unpaid 
writer for the Spokesman, a progressive black newspaper in San 
Francisco. He soon returned to Chico, however, and studied political 
science at Chico State University for three semesters during the height 
of the Great Depression. He then returned to the Bay Area, where he 
worked briefly for the Oakland Tribune in 1934, making him the only 
black journalist to work for a daily newspaper on the West Coast.
  In 1944, Tom became the founding editor of a San Francisco newspaper 
called the Reporter, which was soon merged with a paper owned by his 
closest friend, legendary civil rights leader Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett. 
The publication that emerged, the San Francisco Sun-Reporter, is still 
in print, and is one of the longest-running African-American newspapers 
in the country. During the civil rights movement, when many African-
American publications struggled to find enough advertising money to 
keep them in business, Tom remained devoted to the black press, and 
became renowned for the work he did reporting on this era. Throughout 
the 53 years he spent writing for the Sun-Reporter, Tom met and shared 
the struggles of several historic figures in the black community, such 
as Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, Thurgood Marshall, and Dr. Martin Luther 
King, Jr. He also became well-known for writing a series of eighty 
columns entitled ``Reflections on Black History,'' and for receiving 
the Career Achievement Award for Print from the Northern California 
Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
  Although Tom retired from writing full time for the Sun-Reporter in 
1997, he still writes a column and editorials for the paper, in which 
he continues to be an advocate for truth, equality, and social justice. 
By remaining active in and dedicated to this work for over 70 years, 
Thomas Fleming has contributed immeasurably to Alameda County and the 
San Francisco Bay Area. On behalf of the 9th Congressional District, I 
salute and congratulate him for his many years of invaluable service.