Ruth Brummel Washington, publisher of the city's leading black newspaper, the Los Angeles Sentinel, died Friday of cancer. She was 76.

Born in Salina, Kan., she moved to Los Angeles in 1940, where she married Sentinel founder and civil rights activist Leon H. Washington.The paper was founded in 1933 and reached a peak circulation of 56,000 in the 1960s. In recent years circulation has slipped to about 25,000.

Under her direction the Sentinel emphasized coverage of urban community issues and events and civil rights.