Clara McLaughlin, the famous author, and publisher of The Florida Star and The Georgia Star in Jacksonville, Florida, has died.
McLaughlin had battled cancer and other illnesses for some time, but family and friends said she fiercely fought to the end.
“She was a total icon,” Arthia Nixon, a publicist, author, and writer for McLaughlin’s two publications told the Black Press.
“She gave me my first job, and when my daughter was six, she gave her space to write a column.”
McLaughlin’s interest in publishing began in high school, creating the first student newsletter in Gainesville, Florida. Later, she attended the Hampton Institute in Virginia and displayed an interest in music.
She then joined the U.S. Navy and worked as an organist for the Navy Chapel.
Following her military service, McLaughlin attended Howard University, where she served as editor-in-chief of the school’s Bison yearbook.
She earned a journalism degree from the historically Black university and later helped found the National Black Communications Society.
After expressing her disdain for how television depicted females of color, McLaughlin purchased KLMG-TV, becoming the first Black woman to own and be the largest shareholder of a network-affiliated station.
McLaughlin purchased The Florida Star and Georgia Star in 2002 and catapulted those foundational Black newspapers into national must-reads.
Both newspapers are members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the trade association representing the Black Press of America.
A Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award recipient, McLaughlin dined with several U.S. Presidents, including George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
She also authored the book Black Parents’ Handbook: A Guide to Healthy Pregnancy, Birth and Child Care.
“She was a trailblazer,” Nixon said. “She also was like a mom to me in so many ways, and this hits hard. She put up a really good fight.”