Between 1931 and 1934 (20 and 23 years of age), there were drastic changes in Sellers' life. During these years, Sellers married a woman named Eleanora and moved to 909 Anderson Street in Charlottesville. Sellers' wife, Eleanora B. Sellers, was a school teacher at the New Jefferson High School.
||This article from the Reflector gives the names of honor students at Jefferson School. It also tells of other events that took place at the school during Eleanora's tenure.|
Eleanora was also a hostess for several club meetings of "The Smarter Set," a social club to which both T. J. and Eleanora Sellers belonged. (For more about African-American social clubs in Charlottesville). Also, during the years 1931 through 1934, T. J. Sellers founded The Reflector, Charlottesville's only Negro weekly newspaper at that time. The Reflector, the backbone of this project on early- twentieth century African-American life in Charlottesville during the Jim Crow era, mainly expresses the thoughts of Sellers about the African-American race on a national scale and the local issues and happenings facing African-Americans in Charlottesville in the early to mid-1930s. As Sellers noted in every issue of The Reflector, the paper was "a journal of Calendar and Comment and Charlottesville's only Negro Weekly, published to reflect the progress of our community and Race."
Considering The Reflector as integral to reconstructing the puzzle
of African-American life in Charlottesville under Jim Crow, one has to
determine the importance and significance of the Negro press, as a whole,
to African-American communities of that time. African-American
newspapers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries gave a
voice to local African-American communities, promoting change and championing
important causes and leaders. (For
information about the history of African-American newspapers.) Below are
two articles from The
Reflector which discuss the role of The Reflector and the Negro
||Here, Sellers stated that The Reflector was
for "race lovers" who have community pride and a keen sense of loyalty
to worthwhile African-American endeavors. He added that the paper
attempts to create civic pride and reflect the community spirit.
||Here, Sellers discussed the role of the Negro press
in helping solve the "Negro Problem" and demonstrate that African-Americans
could integrate into society. Some Negro papers published negative
portrayals of African-Americans to increase their circulation, but Sellers
argued that this strategy did nothing but push the blacks downward in their
struggle for progress in America.
After his tenure as editor of The Reflector, Sellers became a student at Virginia Union University, where he graduated with a degree in history in 1939. From 1940 to 1944, Sellers taught at a local rural elementary school for one year, and then he joined the staff of the Norfolk Journal and Guide. Later, in 1945, Sellers became the District Manager of the Richmond Beneficial Life Insurance Company on 400 Commerce Street in Charlottesville. (For more information about African-American businesses in Charlottesville).
While serving as the District Manager of the African-American Insurace Company, Sellers founded the Roanoke Tribune, later called The Albemarle-Charlottesville Tribune, another African-American newspaper. In addition, during the 1950s, Sellers became a founding member of the Charlottesville Interracial Commission. From his work with this commission, which advocated democracy and equality for all, Sellers became adept at finding common ground with white southerners working for the betterment of African-Americans. His skill in communicating with white liberals who sought to help blacks is evident in his friendship and mentorship of Sarah Patton-Boyle, author of The Desegregated Heart: A Virginian's Stand in Time of Transition. Boyle, of Charlottesville, Virginia, was a white woman who came to realize that the "way of life" she inherited from her Southern ancestors was incompatible with her concepts of justice and Christianity. During the 1950s and 1960s, she worked tirelessly as an activist for African-American civil rights. Her book, which addresses her awakening to the struggle of African-Americans, is dedicated to T. J. Sellers, who gave her much insight from the African-American perspective while she wrote her book.
After spending most of his life in Charlottesville, T. J. Sellers moved
to New York City to write for the Amsterdam News, another African-American
newspaper, in 1953. After many years as a journalist, Sellers taught
in the New York City public school system for more than two decades before
retiring in 1980. Today, Sellers resides in Brooklyn, N. Y.