Princess of Publishing Gone at 69
Very few people are blessed to meet people who drastically change their lives for the better. I’ve had the good fortune to work for many Black publishers in Houston, but none that loomed larger than Lenora “Doll” Carter of the Houston Forward Times, who passed away on April 10, of an apparent heart attack at 69.
Fresh off a stint in law school and not wanting to pursue a legal career, Carter gave a young aspiring journalist with very little experience the opportunity to work for a city treasure that had not only paved the way for other Black publishers, but had been the voice of Houston’s Black community since 1960.
My first assignment was interviewing former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in 2006 about the progress of his great city following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. She allowed me to touch and inspire Houston’s Black community with my words, and helped develop a true reporter with my own artistic style.
But most importantly, it was while working for the Houston Forward Times that I was assigned to cover the Essence Music Festival in Houston in July 2006. It was at a press conference, listening to Susan L. Taylor that I came up with the plan to start Regal Magazine as a publication that could have the same impact on Black men as Essence has on Black women.
Black publishers are a rare thing in an era when newspapers and magazines are closing their doors at a rapid pace because of the digital revolution. However, by working for a local legend I was able to see how a true professional conducted business and Carter’s work ethic is something I still emulate four years after working for her.
“She was so many things to so many people…So much wisdom,” said her daughter Karen Carter Richards. “We talked about anything. She was my best friend, we worked together every day, we traveled together. It is such a great loss.”
The Houston Forward Times was founded by Julius Carter, her late husband in 1960. “Doll” served as advertising director and general manager for the newspaper until his passing in 1971. She took over as CEO of the paper that year and continued its legacy as the information source of Black Houston.
Not only a driving force in Houston, Carter became one of those iconic Black publishers determined to make a difference around the world and not just in her backyard.
The awards that she accumulated throughout her illustrious career proved that she reached the pinnacle for Black publishers.
Carter served as secretary for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) for eight years and also served on the Board of Directors for NNPA. She won various awards including the Robert S. Abbot Award; the Publisher of the Year Award from the NNPA; NAACP Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award; Pioneer Award given to Black women in journalism for outstanding accomplishments and achievements in communications; and the “Pace Setter” Award from Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Carter also actively worshipped at Holman Street Baptist Church in Houston, my family’s former church home.
“She believed in the Lord,” added her daughter. “That’s what helps me to continue to stand and not completely fall to pieces because all I know is that she would expect me to be there Monday morning and get this paper out like always.”
For those like me who were fortunate enough to work for one of the best Black publishers in the business, her legacy will continue in all of our future endeavors. We were fortunate to have one of the most beautiful “dolls” God ever created for 69 years and after years of service to her Creator and community, any “doll” that precious deserves to be next to God for all eternity.
Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.