Baltimore Afro-American

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The Afro-American
Baltimore Afro-American building (Baltimore 2008).jpg
The Afro Building on North Charles St.
FormatBroadsheet (full page)
PublisherFrances M. Draper
EditorKamau High, Managing Editor Sean Yoes, Baltimore Editor[1]
FoundedAugust 13, 1892
Headquarters1531 S. Edgewood St. Suite B Baltimore, MD 21227 USA

The Baltimore Afro-American, commonly known as The Afro, is a weekly African American newspaper published in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the flagship newspaper of the Afro-American chain and the longest-running African-American family-owned newspaper in the United States, established in 1892 by John H. Murphy, Sr.[2][3]


Nameplate of The Afro-American Ledger, September 6, 1913

The newspaper was founded in 1892 by John H. Murphy, Sr., who was born into slavery and served in the Civil War in the United States Colored Troops, reaching the rank of sergeant (NCO). He worked a variety of jobs after the war. Active with the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore, a denomination founded in the early 19th century in Philadelphia as the first independent black religion in the United States, Murphy merged his church publication, The Sunday School Helper, with two other church publications, The Ledger and The Afro-American. With The Afro-American, Murphy promoted unity in the black community of Baltimore, as well as combating racial discrimination in the city and working for children's education. "He crusaded for racial justice while exposing racism in education, jobs, housing, and public accommodations. In 1913, he was elected president of the National Negro Press Association."[4]

The publication began to grow to reach more cities and to rise in national prominence after his son Carl J. Murphy took control in 1922, serving as its editor for 45 years. He expanded the paper to have nine national editions, with papers published in 13 major cities. At its peak, the paper published two weekly editions in Baltimore and regional weekly editions in cities including Washington, DC; Philadelphia; Richmond, Virginia; and Newark, New Jersey, the latter a destination northern city for many blacks from the rural South during the Great Migration to the North in the first half of the 20th century. In the early 21st century, the Afro-American has two city editions: one in Baltimore, and the other for Washington, D.C.[5]

Through the summer of 1932, the Baltimore Afro-American published revealing personal letters from prominent African American scientist and Howard University professor Percy Lavon Julian.[6] This led to a scandal and the pressure forced Julian to resign from Howard.[7]

Both John H. Murphy, Sr. and his son Carl J. Murphy have been posthumously inducted into the MDDC Press Association's Hall of Fame in recognition of their contributions to journalism and publishing, in 2008[4] and 2015,[8] respectively.

University collaborative archival project[edit]

In November 2007, five students were selected from Baltimore institutions, Johns Hopkins University, Morgan State University and Goucher College, to begin work under an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant "to uncover and describe the content" of the newspaper's archives, held at its headquarters. These included manuscripts, articles, photographs, and clippings that date to the founding of the paper. "The objectives of the project are to identify important unprocessed collections at the newspaper, inventory and organize the collection, and ultimately create an online database for searching the material."[5]

In order to preserve the newspaper's archival holdings and make them accessible to the masses, the Center for Africana Studies and the Sheridan Libraries' Center for Educational Resources [at JHU] have embarked on the Diaspora Pathways Archival Access Project, a student internship program funded by a three-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The program is one facet of the Center for Africana Studies' larger Diaspora Pathways Initiative, which also includes oral history projects and academic courses."[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Issue of Afro-American Newspaper". November 28, 2015.
  2. ^ "Baltimore City Newspapers". Johns Hopkins University Library. Archived from the original on February 15, 2008. Retrieved April 3, 2008.
  3. ^ Farrar, Hayward (May 30, 1998). The Baltimore Afro-American: 1892–1950. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30517-X.
  4. ^ a b "John Henry Murphy, Sr., MDDC Hall of Fame Class of 2008: Afro-American's John H. Murphy, Sr."[permanent dead link], MDDC Press Association, accessed 23 March 2016
  5. ^ a b c Rienzi, Greg (March 17, 2008). "Mining the 'Afro-American' Archives". The Gazette. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.[dead link]
  6. ^ "Julian Letters Draw A Veil From H.U." The Afro American. June 4, 1932. p. 1. Retrieved April 14, 2014.
  7. ^ "NOVA: Forgotten Genius". Nova (American TV series). Retrieved February 13, 2007.
  8. ^ Video Narrator, Ben Phillips, grandson: "Carl J. Murphy, Publisher, The AFRO-American Newspapers", 2015 inductee, MDDC Hall of Fame, accessed 23 March 2016

Further reading[edit]

  • Farrar, Hayward (May 21, 1998). The Baltimore Afro-American: 1892–1950 (Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies: Contemporary Black Poets) (Hardcover). ISBN 0-313-30517-X. ISBN 978-0313305177.

External links[edit]