Margaret Dixon

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Margaret Richardson Dixon
Born (1908-02-27)February 27, 1908
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Died June 21, 1970(1970-06-21) (aged 62)
Louisiana Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Nationality American
Occupation Managing editor of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate; crusading journalist; political activist
Political party Democrat
Spouse(s) J. Muncia Dixon (m. 1928)
Parent(s) Roger W. and Josephine Pettit Richardson
Notes
Louisiana's most influential woman journalist of the 20th century

Margaret Richardson Dixon, usually known as Maggie Dixon (February 27, 1908 – June 21, 1970), was perhaps the most influential woman journalist of 20th century Louisiana. She was the managing editor of her state's capital city newspaper, the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, from 1949 until her death some two decades later. She was also an active Democrat who championed prison reform, assistance to the mentally ill, and organized labor. She once addressed a Louisiana AFL-CIO convention at the invitation of president Victor V. Bussie of Baton Rouge.

Background[edit]

Dixon was born in New Orleans to Roger W. Richardson and the former Josephine Pettit. In 1928, she obtained her bachelor's degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. That same year, she married J. Muncia Dixon.

Career[edit]

She began her career in 1928 as a reporter for the defunct Baton Rouge State-Times, an afternoon daily. In 1931, she moved to the morning New Orleans Times-Picayune as women's editor and general assignment reporter, a position that she held until 1937. Thereafter she spent a year as the part-time public relations assistant for the Louisiana State Library and as the pivotal Baton Rouge correspondent for the former New Orleans Item and the wire service United Press International.

In 1938, Dixon became city editor of the Morning Advocate, a position that she retained until 1942, when she became assistant managing editor for some seven years. In 1949, she was promoted to her final position of managing editor. In her last three years at the Advocate, Kenneth L. Dixon (no relation) was the editor of the editorial page.

In 1955, Dixon headed the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press Association. She was close to Governor Earl Kemp Long and often advised him on press and political strategy, according to Long's former lieutenant governor, William J. "Bill" Dodd. In 1956 and 1964, she was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. The former met in Chicago to renominate former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, as the presidential candidate, with U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver of Tennessee as his running-mate. In 1964, the convention met in Atlantic City, New Jersey, to nominate U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and U.S. Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota for the presidency and vice presidency, respectively. Humphrey had Baton Rouge ties, having been a graduate student at Dixon's LSU. Dixon also served on the LSU Board of Supervisors from 1951 to 1960, on the initial appointment of Governor Long.

She was a former president of the Capitol Correspondents Association. In 1965, she was secretary to the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. In 1966, she was elected to membership in the American Society of Newspaper Editors. She won the "Headliner Award" from Theta Sigma Phi, the professional journalism society, and the "Women of Achievement Award" from the Federation of Press Women. Shortly before her death, she was initiated into the Southeastern Louisiana chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalism fraternity. She also received the "First Lady of the Year Award" from Beta Sigma Phi.

Dixon's papers from 1922-1969 are located at the LSU Archives. Dixon is commemorated by the Margaret Dixon Award given annually to a senior female student majoring in mass communication at LSU.

Dixon is further remembered for her work in prison reform[1] through the Margaret Dixon Correctional Institute, which opened on April 1, 1976, in Jackson in East Feliciana Parish, halfway between Baton Rouge and the Mississippi state line. The prison grounds had once been part of the East Louisiana State (Mental) Hospital and were revamped to accommodate the new facility, a part of the state's attempt to decentralize inmates from the mammoth Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola in West Feliciana Parish.

In his memoirs entitled Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics, Bill Dodd described Dixon as "the only reporter I knew who had Earl's confidence and could influence him to embrace any kind of reform program. She was wholly responsible for Earl's changing our state prison system from a brutal and neglected stepchild to a fairly well-operated program. . . . "[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mark T. Carleton (1971). "Politics and Punishment: The History of the Louisiana State Penal System". Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press. p. 148-152. ISBN 0-8071-0940-1. Retrieved July 22, 2015. 
  2. ^ William J. "Bill" Dodd, Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana Politics Baton Rouge: Claitor's Publishers, 1991, p. 27

"Margaret Dixon", A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. 1 (1988), pp. 248–249

Dixon obituary, The New York Times, June 23, 1970

Dixon obituary, Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, June 22, 1970