THEODORE ROOSEVELT LEE was one of a group of influential African
Americans approached to help keep the Dallas Post Tribune afloat,
beginning a relationship with the newspaper business that has spanned
nearly 40 years.
At the time,
Lee (57 M.Ed.) was serving as principal of Dallas George
Washington Carver Elementary School. As a man dedicated to education,
he felt obliged to help the paper that was formed with the philosophy
of educating and enhancing the black community, especially youths.
didnt know the first thing about the news business, and to
be honest, I didnt know if I wanted to, says Lee, now
the Tribunes publisher. But I did know that the
paper served a vital role in our community.
and a handful of other community leaders gathered in his den with
Tribune founder Burt C. Muse to discuss exactly what was
decided to save the paper, and we each took a position on the board
of directors, but we would not be directly involved in the day-to-day
operations, Lee says.
left Lee free to continue his career with the Dallas Independent
School District, which ended in 1991 when he retired as deputy assistant
role as the leader of Carver Elementary, a large school that was
facing tough questions involving integration, made him an attractive
candidate for other educational institutions working on interracial
In May of
1969, Lee left Carver to join the Dean of Students Office at North
Texas at the request of then president John J. Kamerick.
asked me to take a direct-contact role with students to help educate
the whole person by concentrating on discipline through example
and keeping an open door, he says.
arrival as the first black administrator at North Texas, a letter
in the student newspaper greeted him and proclaimed the students
need to have an ear in administration on campus.
Texas is a good school with record-breaking enrollment every semester.
For each new student there is a new set of problems. Maybe now with
your position some of these can be solved. Maybe all, the
a distinct effort to communicate with students, and they noticed.
A book of memories from that time holds a number of letters of thanks.
didnt know what purpose you would serve, one reads.
After talking to you, I find that you seem like you are interested
in the problems that are here, and you will try to help.
universitys administration changed just three months after
his arrival, Lee returned to the DISD. Even though little could
be accomplished in one summer, his commitment to opening dialogue
between students and administration is still embraced on campus
career as an educator, Lee continued his involvement with the Dallas
For 27 years
after he joined the Tribunes board of directors, someone
else operated the paper. But when the federal government notified
board members in 1991 that the newspaper was again in financial
trouble, Lee got more involved.
still wasnt sure that I wanted to actually run a paper, but
my wife, Dorothy, and I decided that if the government was going
to take our money anyway, we may as well work out a tax deal to
get the paper right again and operate it ourselves.
10 years thats exactly what theyve done. And the paper
that had hit rough times throughout its life is today one of the
states top weekly community newspapers.
and publisher, Lee has been recognized for his commitment and his
success by the Texas Association of Publishers and Managing Editors.
And with Dorothy serving as vice president and head of finance,
they work together to produce the weekly paper that remains true
to its original mission.
that mission has expanded and the paper is more diversified, educating
and enhancing not just the black community, but all communities.
is why Lee got involved in the first place.
journalism serves a purpose that most people dont really notice,
he says. And that is to print the news that makes a community
feel bound together.