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West Virginia Beacon Digest

Benjamin Starks founded the Beacon Journal in Charleston in 1957. Early in the 21st century, its successor, the West Virginia Beacon Digest, is West Virginia’s only surviving African-American newspaper. Starks ran the newspaper business from his home with the help of his family. He published the Beacon Journal every other month and distributed it free of charge. In its first year, circulation was approximately 500. Funds for operation were solicited from local businesses.

After Starks became ill in 1983, his son and daughter-in-law, Stephen R. and Deborah S. Starks, continued publication under the new name. To increase readership and attract new advertisers, the newspaper went to paid subscription. In 2005, the Beacon Digest was a weekly publication with a circulation of 30,000 subscribers throughout West Virginia and across the nation.

Written by Connie Park Rice


  1. Hart, Betty L. Powell. "The Black Press in West Virginia: A Brief History," in Joe W. Trotter & Ancella R. Bickley, eds, Honoring our Past: Proceedings of the First Two Conferences on West Virginia's Black History. Charleston: Alliance for the Collection, Preservation & Dissemination of West Virginia's Black History, 1991.