The Florida/Georgia Star publisher honored at First Thursday of Jacksonville

By Staff


The publisher and owner of The Florida Star, The Georgia Star and Star Media TV-18.2, Mrs. Clara McLaughlin Leath, was guest speaker at First Thursday Jacksonville, in recognition of National Women’s History Month on March 3.


First Thursday, an independent organization, was founded in May of 2004, by Larry Williams, Francine Williams, Kikora Dorsey, Nate Miles and Ashby Reed in Seattle, Washington. Larry and his team decided that the best way to help Black-owned businesses and the Black community in general, become an economic stimulus is through regular in person meetings, improved marketing/business planning and spiritual desire. Since that time FTBS has become the premier not for profit professional advocacy, and networking organization for Black businesses in Seattle, and Jacksonville.


Presently, Clara McLaughlin is owner and publisher of the largest, oldest and most circulated African American owned newspaper in Jacksonville and Northeast Florida – The Florida Star. She added a new publication, The Georgia Star in 2005. Clara also serves as host for a weekly radio talk show, IMPACT, on WCGL-AM 1360, and recently started Star Media TV-18.2, a digital television channel.


Below are some questions, First Thursday asked the publisher/owner Mrs. Clara McLaughlin:


What made you want to become a journalist?


Clara: I started my career in journalism while in high school by writing, producing, and distributing the school’s only student newsletter.


When I attended Howard University in Washington, D. C., I quickly discovered that the University did not offer journalism as a major, and for this reason initiated steps for students to major in journalism.

Clara was, therefore, able to graduate with honors from Howard University as a journalism major and was also one of the founders of the National Black Communications Society”. Clara served as Co-Editor-in-Chief (1971 Bison) her first time to ever work on a yearbook and Editor-in-Chief her second year (1972 Bison).

With her leadership and skills, Howard University became the first HBCU to win the All American Award for a student publication.


What inspired you to write the Black Parents Handbook?


Clara: I had the opportunity to work as Editorial Assistant for the “Journal of the National Medical Association” under Dr. W. Montague Cobb and wrote the first book for black parents on child care. The Black Parents Handbook was published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.


What inspired you to break barriers in Women and African American’s rights?


Clara: In 1974 I felt that television was not giving women and minorities the proper recognition but felt working at a station would not give the authority to change such. I therefore filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission who subsequently approved a television allocation to be dropped into Houston (Channel 57), designed to show women and minorities in a more positive manner. While waiting for the petition to be approved, I applied for, built and was able to get on the air, a CBS-affiliated television station in Longview, Texas, making me the first African American female in the U. S. to become founder, major owner and CEO of a network affiliated television station.



What do you consider one of your greatest accomplishments?


Clara: I have received many honors and awards, and was recognized for being the media trailblazer achievements in Washington, D.C. in 2012 at the national communications organization, MMTC. Clara also received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University, was inducted into the first Lincoln High School (Gainesville, Florida) Hall of Fame, the Kool Achievers Award, SCLC’s national Drum Major for Justice Award in Atlanta and Female Entrepreneur of the year award for the U.S. which was held in Atlanta, Georgia. The City of Houston, Texas honored her twice with a Clara McLaughlin Day.


Clara McLaughlin has been featured in many major publications, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Time, Los Angeles Times, The Houston Chronicle, The Houston Post, the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Time Herald, Ebony (magazine), Jet (magazine), Texas Women Magazine, and many more, as well as featured in the book, Texas Women in History. Since returning to Florida, she has received many other honors and awards including, MADDADS Award and the Jacksonville and Florida’s Onyx’s awards in Communications. 


The Florida Star, under her leadership, was recognized by the Jacksonville City Council and presented by Councilwoman Glorious Johnson for its reach to the community. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office honored The Florida Star with their first Eagle Award for being Jacksonville’s ‘most factual’ medium. In 2011, Clara received the Diversity Award from the Jacksonville Business Journal, honored by Jacksonville’s Urban League and received the ‘Key to the city of Jacksonville’ as well as a proclamation from the city in 2015 under Mayor Alvin Brown.


First Thursday, is an independent organization funded by members and sponsors who share its vision of advocating and empowering Blacks and others seeking self-empowerment and professional networking. Today, FTBS reaches more than 7,500 business owners, entrepreneurs, and community organizations daily with messages aimed at helping them grow their businesses, one opportunity at a time.


To learn more about First Thursday Jacksonville, call 904-374-9313 or email at