Black Buzz News Service
Beatrice L. Saunders Robinson Project
December 10, 2013
Lorraine Robinson, who would later become Mrs. Clifton Brown, and who was also employed by The Pittsburgh Courier, stated that in the late 1940's, The Pittsburgh Courier employees selected Beatrice Saunders to be the chairman of Pittsburgh Local of the American Newspaper Guild because she was trustworthy, highly intelligent and would fight for the employees' rights in a quiet, dignified manner.
Ronald Saunders recalls overhearing his mother, Beatrice Saunders at a sub-committee meeting of the American Newspaper Guild at the National Convention held in Albany, New York in 1955 make the following statement: 'The Pittsburgh Courier employees have to pay the same for bread and butter and other staples as the other employees of the of Pittsburgh Sun Telegraph and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette'. (Lorraine Robinson later married Clifton Brown, brother of the late Ray Brown who was the most famous bassist in jazz history).
Beatrice L. Saunders who later became Beatrice L. Saunders Robinson represented all The Courier reporters, editorial writers, all photographers such as the late Teenie Harris, Sports Editors such as Bill Nunn Jr, clerical staff and support staff. Note that Mrs. Saunders represented Edna Chapell who later became Dr. Edna McKenzie and who was the first Black female reporter at The Pittsburgh Courier. The other Courier employees such as the pressmen, printers, lithograph operators and truck drivers were represented by Jimmy Hoffa's teamsters.
One should be cognizant of the fact that the vast majority of Black newspapers during the 1930's through the 1950's were openly hostile to the unionization of their employees. But Mrs. Robert L. Vann, who was forward and progressive in her thinking and who preceded her husband, Mr. Vann in the ownership of The Pittsburgh Courier, welcomed the unionization of her business.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette employees today owe a lot to the efforts of another female pioneer in the Pittsburgh labor movement and in the national labor movement and that is Helen M. Minear who was the secretary (business agent) of the Pittsburgh Local of the American Newspaper Guild for many years. It is a fact that Helen M. Minear worked in concert with Beatrice L. Saunders Robinson set the stage to obtain the highest standard of living and better working conditions for today's employees.