Trailblazing journalist Julia Scott Reed found her voice during the height of the civil rights movement in the United States. Using her position in the newsroom, her “open line” to the black community in Dallas brought awareness and inspiration to her readers.
Dallas native Julia Scott Reed was born July 17, 1917, daughter of Johnnie and Nina McGee. She graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Dallas, Texas, attended Wiley College, and graduated from Phillip’s Business School.
Her career as a reporter began at the Kansas City Call, a weekly African-American newspaper in Missouri; she served as the publication’s Texas correspondent. In 1951 Ms. Reed was hired to work for the African American newspaper The Dallas Express and for eight years she reported “News and Views” as a radio personality on Dallas radio station KNOK. Reed earned her reputation as a trusted voice and reporter with her coverage of landmark events such as the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education and Jack Ruby’s trial following the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald. In 1967 Ms. Reed became the first African American writer to join the Dallas Morning News staff. She also became the first African American woman to join the Dallas Press Club and Dallas Altrusa Club.
Her column “The Open Line” featured articles on community issues, politics, religion, race relations, and other current events. Often her columns highlighted individual stories in Dallas, like Lawrence Harrison. A police sergeant from the Bahamas, Mr. Harrison is seen here directing traffic in Dallas at Commerce and Akard. His visit to Dallas served as a promotional tool for Eastern Airline’s new flight service to Freeport in the Bahamas. In her story Reed did more than just recount Harrison’s visit; she painted a picture of a hardworking man whose education and experiences brought him to Texas.
Reed received numerous accolades and awards for her work. Her achievements and activism inspired generations of young women from her community including Dallas journalist Norma Adams-Wade. Those wishing to read Julia Scott Reed’s column, “The Open Line”, can do so by using the SMU libraries’ access to the Dallas Morning News historical database. Her personal papers are comprised mainly of the numerous awards, plaques, and certificates of achievement that she received for her efforts in the fields of journalism and community advocacy during her distinguished career and the accompanying notes, cards, and telegrams. The collection also includes over 100 photographs of Julia Scott Reed and photographs taken by Ms. Reed or other staff photographers for her newspaper column “The Open Line.” The Julia Scott Reed papers are available for research in the Archives of Women of the Southwest in the DeGolyer Library.
Contact Samantha Dodd, curator of the Archives of Women of the Southwest for additional information, or assistance with accessing the collection.