The Crisis

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The Crisis
The crisis nov1910.jpg
First Issue of The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races, November 1910. New York: NAACP, 1910
Editor Jabari Asim
Former editors W. E. B. Du Bois
Frequency Monthly[1]
Publisher NAACP
First issue November 1910 (1910-November)
Company The Crisis Publishing Company
Country United States
Based in New York, NY
Language English
ISSN 1559-1573

The Crisis is the official magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and was founded in 1910 by W. E. B. Du Bois (editor), Oswald Garrison Villard, J. Max Barber, Charles Edward Russell, Kelly Miller, W. S. Braithwaite, M. D. Maclean.[2] The magazine continues to be published more than a century later.


A 1911 copy of The Crisis depicting "Ra-Maat-Neb, one of the black kings of the Upper Nile", a copy of the relief of Nebmaatre I on Meroe pyramid 17.

The original title of the journal was The Crisis: A Record of The Darker Races. From 1997 to 2003, it appeared as The New Crisis: The Magazine of Opportunities and Ideas, but the title has since reverted to The Crisis. The title derives from the poem "The Present Crisis" by James Russell Lowell.[1] Published monthly, the journal in its first year had a circulation of 1,000 and by 1918 had over 100,000 readers.[3]

Du Bois proclaimed his intentions in his first editorial:

The object of this publication is to set forth those facts and arguments which show the danger of race prejudice, particularly as manifested today toward colored people. It takes its name from the fact that the editors believe that this is a critical time in the history of the advancement of men. …Finally, its editorial page will stand for the rights of men, irrespective of color or race, for the highest ideals of American democracy, and for reasonable but earnest and persistent attempts to gain these rights and realize these ideals.

Predominantly a current-affairs journal, The Crisis also included poems, reviews, and essays on culture and history. Du Bois' initial position as editor was in line with the NAACP's liberal program of social reform and racial equality, but by the 1930s Du Bois was advocating a form of black separatism. This led to disputes between Du Bois and the NAACP resulting in his resignation as editor in 1934. He was replaced by Roy Wilkins.

Although The Crisis was officially an organ of the NAACP, Du Bois had a large degree of control over the periodical's expressed opinion. Du Bois wrote in Dusk of Dawn (1940) that he intended for The Crisis to represent his personal opinions:

I determine to make the opinion of the Crisis a personal opinion; because, as I argued, no organization can express definite and clear cut opinions… the Crisis would state openly the opinion of its editor, so long, of course, as that opinion was in general agreement with that of the organization.

Du Bois contends that the periodical suffered during the Great Depression as the "circulation dropped steadily until by 1933 it was scarcely more than ten thousand paid subscriptions." Du Bois left the magazine for both financial and ideological reasons.

Throughout the Du Bois years The Crisis published the work of many young African-American writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Its greatest era as a literary journal was between 1919 and 1926, when Jessie Redmon Fauset was literary editor. Fauset encouraged such writers as Arna Bontemps, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen and Jean Toomer.

After Du Bois[edit]

On August 7, 2007, Jabari Asim was named editor of The Crisis by then publisher Roger Wilkins. Asim came to The Crisis from The Washington Post, where he was Book World deputy editor.[4]

The Chicago Tribune named The Crisis one of its "50 Favorite Magazines" in 2008, stating: "This venerable publication of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has continued to evolve and illuminate since its premier premiere issue in November 1910 (one year after the creation of the NAACP)."[5]


  1. ^ a b "First Issue of The Crisis". Library of Congress. Retrieved November 13, 2011. 
  2. ^ "About The Crisis: Overview". The Crisis. Retrieved June 24, 2010. 
  3. ^ Richard Wormser, "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, Jim Crow Stories: The Crisis Magazine Established (1910)", Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  4. ^ "NAACP Welcomes Jabari Asim as New Editor of The Crisis", NAACP press release, August 7, 2007.
  5. ^ "Our 50 Favorite Magazines", The Chicago Tribune, Lifestyles page, July 9, 2008.

Further reading[edit]

  • Paul Finkelman, "The Crisis," Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present: From the Age of Segregation to the Twenty-First Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Amy Helene Kirschke, Art in Crisis: W.E.B. DuBois and the Struggle for African American Identity and Memory. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007.
  • Paul G. Partington, The Moon Illustrated Weekly: Black America's First Weekly Magazine. Thornton, CO: C & M Press, 1986.

External links[edit]