African American Press Essay
?“We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentation of things which concerns us dearly,” written on the front page of the first African-American owned newspaper, Freedom’s Journal. Freedom’s Journal was published on March 16, 1827 by a group of free African-American men in New York City. Freedom’s Journal was published the same year slavery was abolished in New York and was used to counter racist commentary published in the mainstream press. Samuel E.
Cornish and John B. Russwurm served, respectively, as its senior and junior editors where they worked together to publish four-page, four-column weekly newspapers. Though The Freedom’s Journal was not the first African-American paper published, it was the first Africa-American owned newspaper. Freedom’s Journal consisted of news on current events, anecdotes, editorials and used to address contemporary issues such as denouncing slavery, advocating for black people’s political rights, the right to vote, and speaking out about lynching.
Cornish and Russwurm desire were to give African-Americans the freedom to voice their thoughts, ideas and opinions. They sought to improve conditions for more than 300,000 newly freed men and women living in the North. They fulfilled this desire, by employing 14 to 44 agents each year to collect subscriptions. Each agent was paid $3 a year for their work. To encourage black achievements Freedom’s Journal featured biographies of celebrated black figures and continued to promote better living conditions by printing schools that were open to blacks, job offering and housing listings.
Freedom’s Journal, eventually, circulated 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe and Canada before ceasing publications in 1829. During that time, Russwurm became the sole editor of Freedom’s Journal, after Cornish resigned in 1827. Russwurm began to promote the Colonization Movement which was frowned upon by majority of the newspaper’s readers. The Colonization Movement was a movement that was conceived by members of the American Colonization Colony where they began repatriating free African-Americans back to Africa.
When the Freedom’s Journal shifted in complete support of colonization, it lost most of its readers and in March 1829 Freedom’s Journal ceased publication. Even though Freedom’s Journal existed for two years, its two years of existence helped spawn other papers. Since then, African American press has evolved and has substantially increased in the population over the years. After Freedom’s Journal, African-Americans had begun establishing and owning newspapers. It began May 1829, when Cornish attempted to revive the Freedom’s Journal under the name The Rights of All, however, the publication was not successful and failed after a year.
David Walker, hired as an agent for Freedom’s Journal, became a well known, anti-slavery writer which was inspired by his experience with Freedom’s Journal. In 1830, Walker’s published his most famous publication known as Appeal which called for slaves to rebel against their masters, “…they want us for their slaves, and think nothing of murdering us…therefore, if there is an attempt made by us, kill or be killed…and believe this, that it is no more harm for you to kill a man who is trying to kill you, than it is for you to take a drink of water when thirsty,” (Walker).
Another attempt at publication, Samuel Cornish, along with, Philip Bell, and Charles Bennett Ray launched The Weekly Advocate, January 1837. Later, the men changed the name to The Colored American March 4, 1837. The Colored American main purpose was to strengthen the moral, social, and political elevation of colored people as well as emancipation of slaves. The Colored American became well-known in the North because of the wide spread support of abolitionists, African-American churches and local abolition societies, and Caucasian allies.
The Colored American published 38 articles, becoming an important paper of its time. The last edition of The Colored American was published on Christmas day in 1841. Other early African American newspapers include the Provincial Freeman, published in 1854, which was the first African-American owned newspapers to be published in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. The North Star was an anti-slavery newspaper published in 1847 by Frederick Douglas. He later agreed to merge it with the publication Liberty Party Paper with Gerrit Smith creating the Frederick Douglass’ Paper, in Rochester, New York.
The National Era was published in Washington, D. C. in 1847 by the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. The Liberator was probably the best-known publication during the era, published by William Lloyd Garrison in Boston between 1831 and 1865. Other anti-slavery newspapers of note include the Friend of Man, published weekly for the New York State Anti-Slavery Society from 1836 through 1842. The Emancipator, originally known as Genius of Universal Emancipation, was one of the first anti-slavery newspapers published in the United States by Benjamin Lundy in 1819 and National
Anti-Slavery Standard established in 1840. All of these newspapers advocated for the abolition of slavery and for the civil rights of all African Americans. By the start of Civil War, more than 40 black-owned and operated papers had been established throughout the United States. After the end of the Civil War, more than 100 newspapers were beginning to publish. Many of the major African-American owned publications include, Baltimore Afro-American, also known as The Afro, was founded by a former slave, John H. Murphy, SR. , in 1892.
Today, The Afro is the longest-running African-American, family-owned newspaper in the United States. The Chicago Defender was founded by Robert Sengstacke. Abbott on May 5, 1905. The Chicago Defender included writing pieces from the well-known Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks and Willard Motley. The Pittsburgh Courier an African-American newspaper published in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1910. The Pittsburgh Courier became the most widely circulated newspaper in America for African-Americans. During its peak, the Pittsburgh Courier circulated around 450,000 publications, with more than 400 employees in 14 cities.
The Pittsburgh Courier discussed major issues impacting African-American communities. It campaigned against segregation and poverty, and promoted the social advancement of blacks. In the 1930s, the Pittsburgh Courier urged Black voters to vote Democrat, creating a political alliance that still exist to this day. Other publications includes, The Philadelphia Tribune (1912-2001), Atlanta Daily World (1931–2003), Cleveland Call & Post (1934-1991), Los Angeles Sentinel (1934–2005), New York Amsterdam News (1922–1993), and Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003).
With African-American newspaper publication on the rise, organizations to help promote the publication began to form to support African-American journalist. In 1940, Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder of Chicago Defender, along with other African-American publishers, organized the National Negro Publishers Association. The members of the National Negro Publishers Association worked together, “harmonizing our energies in a common purpose for the benefit of Negro journalism”, (Sengstacke). Today, the National Negro Publishers Associations is composed of more than 200 black newspapers in the United States and the Virgin Islands.
In 1975 in Washington D. C. , 44 African-American journalists founded the National Association of Black Journalists. The National Association of Black Journalist’ purpose was to provide quality programs and services to and advocate on behalf of black journalists. These organizations are still going strong today and have contributed greatly to the African American population. Today, there isn’t a firm count of how many African American newspapers circulating the United States, however, according to Allied Media Corporation, an ethnic marketing firm, they have listed 250 newspapers in circulation.
The National Newspaper Publishers Association, better known as the Black Press of America, assist in the publication of African-American owned newspapers, counts more than 200 black-owned newspapers as its membership. As you can see, since the Freedom’s Journal, the number of newspaper publications has increased. It began with the main purpose being that Africa-Americans would stick together to fight the constant oppression they were under. Now that we don’t see African-American oppression, as we did then, publications has different focal points.
Many of the newspapers provide news and insight on African-American culture, including a variety of perspectives from leaders, celebrities, trendsetters and great minds from the African-American community. The Freedom’s Journal created a new stepping stone for the African-American population. It provided the platform for issues and concerns pursuant to ensuring our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and to preserve a legacy of black conservatism for generations to come. References 2, M. A. (n. d. ). Early African American and Anti-Slavery Newspapers | Marjory Allen Perez.
Genealogy & Family History | Search Family Trees & Vital Records . Retrieved August 1, 2013, from http://www. archives. com/experts/perez-marjory/early-african-american-and-anti-slavery-newspapers. html Black Newspapers Listing | The Network Journal. (n. d. ). Black Business | Black News, Career Ideas for Black Professionals. Retrieved August 1, 2013, from http://www. tnj. com/lists-resources/black-newspapers-listing David Walker, 1785-1830. Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles; Together with a Preamble, to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly.
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