The Illusion of Inclusion: The Nubian Message in the 1990s


The Nubian Message has been created to represent the African American community at NCSU totally, truthfully, and faithfully.” So wrote Tony Williamson, the founding editor of NC State’s African American student newspaper, The Nubian Message, in the inaugural issue. Outraged at ongoing and controversial misrepresentations of African Americans in NC State’s main student newspaper, the Technician, Williamson and others organized The Nubian Message to provide African American students with a media voice. “We are not seeking superiority, nor segregation,” Williamson wrote. “[A]ll we want is an equal voice on this campus and with The Nubian Message, the door is open for us to have that voice.”[1]

Williamson and other students distributed the first issue of the paper on November 30, 1992. Because University administration refused to recognize the paper or allow student editors to use NC State media equipment, The Nubian Message staff partnered with North Carolina Central University, a historically African American college, to print the first issue. While NC State administrators permitted students to publish later issues using University equipment, The Nubian Message was not made an official member of the NC State Student Media Authority, through which it could gain funding and advisory support, until March 7, 1994.[2]

Despite the early challenges that it faced, The Nubian Message quickly assumed a role on campus as a defender of diversity and a critic of the status quo. Initial issues espoused fierce critiques of racism on campus and in the United States more broadly and argued that African Americans should openly reject mainstream white culture and values. The influence of Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and other ideologies and movements are clearly seen in these early issues. Although issues published in the later 1990s are not as vehement in their language or in their attacks on mainstream white values and institutions, the paper never ceased its struggle to make the unfulfilled promises of the 1960s civil rights movements a reality in the 1990s. The paper thus challenged the idea that America had succeeded in eliminating racism, discrimination, and prejudice by the 1990s, and was a "post-racial" society.

[1] Tony Williamson, “To All My Nubian Brothers and Sisters: ‘What’s Up?,’” The Nubian Message (Raleigh, NC), November 30, 1992, reprinted in “Why We Exist?,” The Nubian Message, (accessed September 19, 2014).

[2] “We’re Here to Stay,” The Nubian Message (Raleigh, NC), March 10, 1994; Special Collection Research Center, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.


Rose Buchanan