While in college at Morehouse College, William H. McClendon was mentored by W.E.B. Bu Bois. This mentorship influenced McClendon’s lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice for African Americans. McClendon married Ida Alice Edwards and returned to Ida’s family home in Portland, Oregon. In 1938, William McClendon launched The Portland Observer, the first of three newspapers he would publish and edit. The Portland Observer ceased publication a year later amidst The Great Depression. During this time, McClendon also played jazz piano in many prominent jazz groups and owned McClendon’s Rhythm Room and Supper Club. In 1943, McClendon restored his newspaper as The People’s Observer at the request of the Shipyard Negro Organization for Victory (SNOV). He agreed to take control of the newspaper as long as members of SNOV subscribed to it. The paper lasted two years, when in 1945, McClendon changed the name to The Observer. After ceasing publications of The Observer, McClendon was a social worker for Multnomah County during the 1950s and 1960s and began teaching courses at Reed College. He also lectured at Washington State, Whitman College (WA), and at Portland State University where he helped create their Black Studies Program.
Today's Portland Observer, established in 1970 by Alfred Lee Henderson, has no connection to the earlier McClendon publications.
Dates of Publication
“Fighting today for tomorrow’s victory”
“The Observer: Negro Owned – Negro Controlled, Our eyes are never closed to minority problems!”
“Only one paper has the respect of the people! The choice of the Negro people of the Northwest is The Observer”