Funeral services for Almena Davis Lomax, who died on March 25 at age 95, will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the United Negro College Fund.
A towering figure in journalism, Lomax left a notable imprint on the Los Angeles Black community, the city and the nation as the former editor of the Los Angeles Tribune and a civil rights activist.
According to her son Michael Lomax, president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund, she died after a short illness in Pasadena.
“Mother lived an extraordinarily long and productive life,” he said. “She was both a wife and mother and, very importantly, a journalist of the African American experience. She devoted more than half a century to observing and writing about African Americans in Los Angeles, the Deep South and across the country. While she is no longer alive, her words continue to live on, and that’s a wonderful legacy.”
Lomax was born on July 23, 1915, in Galveston, Texas, the second of three children of the union of a seamstress and postal worker. The family moved to Chicago when Lomax was 2, and she began public school there. In order to work doing alterations in the exclusive women’s dress shops on Michigan Avenue, her mother, whose father was White, passed as White. The experience was said to have a profound effect on the future activist.
The family moved to California during the Depression era.
Lomax graduated from Jordan High School and studied journalism at Los Angeles City College.
She noted that many other journalism students were soon hired to staff Los Angeles’ major daily newspapers. “They were taking them out of there as fast as they learned who, what, when, where … A grand how,” Lomax said in an oral history recording for California State University Fullerton, in 1967, “… and nobody would hire me.”
In 1938, she went to work for another pioneering Black journalist–Charlotta A. Bass at the California Eagle–reporting, proofreading, selling ads and subscriptions, and making up the paper for $10 a week. Her reputation grew, and she left two years later when she began a popular twice-weekly news and interview program for Gold Furniture Co. on radio station KGFJ. Bass gave her an ultimatum: choose between the newspaper and the radio program.
Lomax borrowed $100 from Lucius W. Lomax Sr., who would become her father-in-law. With a portion of the loan she launched the Los Angeles Tribune in 1941. Known for her iconoclasm and gifted writing, she often became the center of controversy until she closed the paper in 1960 and moved to the South to involve herself in the Civil Rights Movement.
Donations can be sent to the local office of UNCF is at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 675, Los Angeles, CA 90010.