Journalist, civil rights activist Almena Lomax dies at 95

Listen to story

Download this story 1.0MB

Civil rights activist and noted black journalist Almena Lomax has died. She was 95 years old. Lomax was the founder of the Los Angeles Tribune, a weekly newspaper that chronicled black LA. It was published for nearly for two decades, beginning in 1941.

Lomax began her journalism career in 1938 when she went to work for the California Eagle, a premiere black weekly in Los Angeles. Three years later, she decided to raise $100 to buy the Tribune, which was then a religious newspaper. Lomax and her future husband turned the paper into a publication covering the growing African American community in Los Angeles.

The paper examined civil rights issues and other stories important to the black community, including the relationship between police and African Americans. Lomax also covered the black entertainment scene in Los Angeles, meeting legendary musicians like Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. Both Holiday and Ellington were regulars at the Dunbar Hotel, a hotel in South-Central Los Angeles that was owned by her father-in-law.

Lomax shut down the Tribune in the 1960, a year after she and her husband divorced. Lomax then moved with her children to the Deep South to join the civil rights movement. That experience particularly affected her son Michael, who now heads the United Negro College Fund.

Michael Lomax told KPCC's Alex Cohen he'd like people to remember his mother as a pioneering journalist and as someone who broke down barriers for women and African Americans in that field.

"And as someone who climbed the rough side of the mountain so others could have the opportunity to tell their story in the media," said Mr. Lomax.

Almena Lomax's late daughter Melanie, a civil rights lawyer, was the first African American head of the L.A. Police Commission. Lomax, who died on March 25 in Pasadena, is survived by three other children.