NewsPhoenix Metro NewsCentral Phoenix News


Meet Ayra Hackett, a pioneer behind Arizona's first Black, female-owned newspaper

Ayra Hackett.jpg
Posted at 5:28 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 07:31:03-05

PHOENIX — Ayra Hackett is a name many may not be familiar with but her contributions to the state and community were meaningful.

During the 1930s, she helped provide a voice to Arizona's Black community with the first Black, female-owned newspaper in the state — the Arizona Gleam.

Sadly, her life was cut short but her legacy remains.

“She had a vision, and she had a drive and tenacity to create something where other people couldn't see opportunity being," said Dr. Anthony Pratcher, Secretary of George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center and an Honors Faculty Fellow at ASU's Barrett Honors College.

Hackett was the first Black-female newspaper owner in Arizona when she founded the Arizona Gleam in 1929.

She was married to Dr. Winston C Hackett, who was the first African American doctor to move to the Phoenix area.

They were the definition of a power couple. But you won't find Ayra's story in the history books.

That's why the work Sativa Peterson is doing at the state of Arizona research library is so important. She is the New Content Manager at the state research library.

“We had a grant to digitize 100,000 pages of historic Arizona newspapers," she said.

Looking through historic papers, she, “stumbled upon the Arizona Gleam and Mrs. Hackett story. I mean, I don't think it's that widely known. And she's such a pioneer of Arizona journalism."

Hackett had an all-female staff when the paper started and it was published out of the Hackett’s home off of Jefferson and 14th street in Phoenix. The house has since been demolished.

Initially, the paper focused on church and home. But the times were changing and so was Mrs. Hackett.

"She starts writing editorials. And she started speaking out about promoting black business, homeownership, promoting homeownership, and speaking out against prejudice.”

Three years after publishing her first paper, Ayra died of pneumonia. She was 35.

The newspaper went under new ownership.

“At that time, the direction of the newspaper may change slightly, but at the end of the day, the Arizona Gleam continued even after her transition to be a beacon for political engagement in the Black community.”

The paper ceased publication in 1937.

Ayra and Dr. Hackett are buried at the Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix.

Some of the Arizona Gleam's newspapers have already been digitized and are available to read online. There are at least 60 more issues that need to be digitized, which will happen over the next six months.