John J. Neimore was a pioneering newspaper founder who established the California Eagle, one of the longest-running African American newspapers in the West. Born in 1862 in Texas, Neimore moved to Los Angeles in 1879 and worked as a porter, a barber, and a waiter before launching his own publication in 1879. The California Eagle started as a four-page weekly that covered local news, politics, and culture from an African American perspective.
Neimore was an outspoken advocate for civil rights, education, and economic opportunity for his community. He also supported the migration of black Americans from the South to the West, and helped many newcomers find jobs and housing in Los Angeles. Neimore ran the California Eagle until his death in 1912, when he passed the ownership to his protege Charlotta Bass, who continued his legacy of journalism and activism for four more decades.
Not only was John J. Neimore a publisher and editor, but he also was into politics, drafting what is known as the Dribble Bill into California state legislature. The Dribble Bill called for any person who discriminated against anyone based on their color, or race, to be penalized, no matter what public establishments in the state of California. Neimore’s Dribble Bill was for the protection of everyone against discrimination based on their skin color, African Americans and all those who were oppressed by it.
The California Eagle shaped much of American history as a political voice for African Americans, and The Dribble Bill thrusted Neimore into politics as a leader for African Americans who relocated from the South in order to find freedom as they fought against white people who also relocated to California as well from the racist south, bringing their hardcore racist beliefs with them. The goal of The Dribble Bill was to “erase what he knew would be a menace to democracy in the state, and would contribute to the same racial discrimination and friction that he and his people left behind in Texas.” In 1915, the Dribble Bill won, and African Americans could not be discriminated against while riding public transportation, ending that Jim Crow policy.
Unfortunately, John Neimore’s health would deteriorate, and he would have to name a successor before his death on March 9, 1912, not able to see the successful end of The Dribble Bill.