African-American newspapers

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African-American newspapers are those newspapers in the United States that seek readers primarily of African-American descent. These newspapers came into existence in 1827 when Samuel Cornish and John Brown Russwurm started the first African-American periodical called Freedom's Journal. During the antebellum South, other African-American newspapers sprang forth, such as The North Star founded by Frederick Douglass. As African Americans moved to urban centers around the country, virtually every large city with a significant African-American population soon had newspapers directed towards African Americans. Today, these newspapers have gained audiences outside African-American circles.


116th Anniversary of the Negro Press, by artist Charles Henry Alston, 1907-1977


Most of these publications, like Freedom's Journal's (1758–99), were published in the north and then distributed, often covertly, to African Americans throughout the country. Blacks' ability to establish many environments and black neighborhoods in the North led to the first wave of publications. By the 20th century, daily papers appeared in Norfolk, Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

19th century[edit]

In the late 19th century the main reason that the papers were created was to uplift the black community. Many blacks sought to assimilate into larger society, and Northern blacks felt it their duty to educate southern blacks on the mores of Victorian society. Many African-American newspapers struggled to keep their circulation going due to the low rate of literacy among African Americans. Many Freed Africans had low incomes and could not afford to purchase subscriptions, but shared the publications with one another.[1]

Modern day[edit]

There were many black publications, such as those of Marcus Garvey and John H. Johnson. These men broke a wall that let black people into society as successful human beings. The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder is Minnesota's oldest Black newspaper and the United States oldest ongoing minority publication, second only to The Jewish World.

The future of African-American newspapers[edit]

Many Black newspapers that began publishing in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s went out of business because they could not attract enough advertising and economic decline. They were also a victim of their own substantial efforts to eradicate racism and promote civil rights. As of 2002, 200 Black newspapers remained. As of 2010, there has been a resurgence of online African-American news organizations, most notably Black News, The Grio, and Black Voices. With the decline of print media and proliferation of internet access, more and more black news websites are popping up every day.

List of African-American newspapers in the United States[edit]

Newsboy selling the Chicago Defender, April 1942
The Colored American front page November 25, 1899

List of African-American online news organizations in the United States[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rhodes, Jane (1998). Mary Ann Shadd Carry: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century. Bloomington, In: Indiana University Press. pp. 120–123. ISBN 0-253-21350-9. 
  2. ^ Business, Family (2012-01-12). ""Recap: Alexis Scott Shares Atlanta Daily World History on Family Business Radio", Family Business Radio, January 12, 2012". Retrieved 2012-03-04. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bacon, Jacqueline. Freedom's journal: the first African-American newspaper (Lexington Books, 2007)
  • Belles, A. Gilbert. "The Black Press in Illinois." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984) (1975): 344-352. online
  • Buni, Andrew (1974). Robert L. Vann of the Pittsburgh courier: politics and Black journalism. University of Pittsburgh Press. 
  • Burma, John H. "An analysis of the present Negro Press." Social forces (1947): 172-180. in JSTOR
  • Davis, Ralph N. "The Negro Newspapers and the War." Sociology and Social Research 27 (1943): 378-380.
  • Eldridge, Lawrence Allen. Chronicles of a Two-front War: Civil Rights and Vietnam in the African American Press (University of Missouri Press, 2012)
  • Finkle, Lee. Forum for protest: The black press during World War II (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1975)
  • Guskin, Emily, Paul Moore, and Amy Mitchell. "African American media: Evolving in the new era." in The State of the News Media 2011 (2011).
  • Henritze, Barbara K. Bibliographic Checklist of African American Newspapers (Genealogical Publishing Com, 1995)
  • Hogan, Lawrence D. A black national news service: the Associated Negro Press and Claude Barnett, 1919-1945 (Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Pr, 1984)
  • La Brie, Henry G. A survey of Black newspapers in America (Mercer House Press, 1973.
  • Meier, August. "Booker T. Washington and the Negro Press: With Special Reference to the Colored American Magazine." Journal of Negro History (1953): 67-90. in JSTOR
  • Morris, James McGrath. Eye on the Struggle: Ethel Payne, the First Lady of the Black Press (New York: Amistad, 2015). xii, 466 pp.
  • Oak, Vishnu Vitthal. The negro newspaper (Greenwood, 1970)
  • Odum-Hinmon, Maria E. "The Cautious Crusader: How the Atlanta Daily World Covered the Struggle for African American Rights from 1945 to 1985." (PhD Dissertation University of Maryland, 2005). online
  • Stevens, John D. "Conflict-cooperation content in 14 Black newspapers." Journalism Quarterly 47#3 (1970): 566-568.
  • Washburn, Patrick S. The African American Newspaper: Voice of Freedom (Northwestern University Press, 2006); covers 1827-1900; emphasis on Pittsburgh Courier and the Chicago Defender

Primary sources[edit]

  • Dunnigan, Alice. Alone Atop the Hill: The Autobiography of Alice Dunnigan, Pioneer of the National Black Press (University of Georgia Press, 2015)

External links[edit]