Philadelphia Tribune

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Philadelphia Tribune
Type African-American daily
Founder(s) Christopher James Perry, Sr.
Founded 1884
Language English
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
ISSN 0746-956X
Website www.phillytrib.com
Modern image of the Philadelphia Tribune building at 520 South 16th Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia Tribune is the oldest continually publishing African-American newspaper in the United States.[1][better source needed] The paper began in 1884 when Christopher J. Perry released its first copy. Throughout its history, The Philadelphia Tribune has been committed to the social, political, and economic advancement of African Americans in the Greater Philadelphia region. During a time when African Americans struggled for equality, the Tribune acted as the "Voice of the black community" for Philadelphia. Historian V. P. Franklin asserted that the Tribune "was (and is) an important Afro-American cultural institution that embodied the predominant cultural values of upper-, middle-, and lower-class Black Philadelphians."[2]

Today, the paper is headquartered at 520 South 16th Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and publishes on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.The Philadelphia Tribune also publishes the Tribune Magazine, Entertainment Now, Sojourner, The Learning Key, and The Sunday Tribune. The Tribune has a weekly readership of about 625,000, and is mostly read by people living in the Philadelphia-Camden Metro Area, as well as in Chester.[1] The Tribune has received the John B. Russwurm award as "Best Newspaper" in the country seven times since 1995.[1]

Christopher James Perry[edit]

Christopher J. Perry was born on September 11, 1854[3] in Baltimore, Maryland to free African-American parents. In Baltimore, Perry attended school and gained a positive reputation in his local community through his public speeches.[1] After he graduated from high school in 1873, the ambitious Perry migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania due to the lack of opportunities for African Americans in Baltimore.[4] Once in Philadelphia, Perry began writing for local newspapers like the Northern Daily and the Sunday Mercury. He wrote a column titled, "Flashes and Sparks" for the Mercury which provided information to the growing Black community in Philadelphia.[4] Through his regular columns, Perry gained positive attention from the educated members of the African-American community in Philadelphia.[5] However, in 1884, the Sunday Mercury went bankrupt and Perry found himself without a job.[6] Later that year on November 27, 1884, Perry began his own newspaper titled the Philadelphia Tribune, and Perry ran the operation as the owner, reporter, editor, copier, and advertiser.[7] Perry worked on the Tribune until his death in 1921. Throughout his career with the Tribune, Perry promoted the advancement of American Americans in society and covered issues affecting their daily lives.[7]

History[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

An image from Garland Penn's book The Afro-American Press and Its Editors

When the Tribune began publication in 1884, it was a weekly, one page paper located at 725 Sansom Street. Despite the challenges Black businesses faced during the late nineteenth century, especially in journalism, the Tribune enjoyed unusual success during its early years as it averaged 3,225 copies weekly by 1887.[6] In 1891, Perry and the Tribune received national recognition when Garland Penn, a prominent advocate for African-American journalism, praised the Philadelphia newspaper in his book The Afro-American Press and Its Editors.[6] In his book, Penn complimented the Tribune's consistency and reliability.[6] However,the Tribune was not the only African-American newspaper circulating in Philadelphia at the time. The Tribune competed against other African-American newspapers during its first few decades like The Philadelphia Standard Echo, The Philadelphia Sentinel, The Philadelphia Defender, and The Courant. But by 1900, the Tribune became the leading voice of Black Philadelphia when W.E.B. Du Bois referred to it as "the chief news-sheet" in the city.[8]

Great Migration[edit]

After Reconstruction ended in 1877, African Americans migrated to northern cities in search of a better life. During this Great Migration to Philadelphia, the city went through a fundamental transformation as African Americans flooded the city looking for jobs.[3] Racial tensions divided Philadelphia as the new Black migrants crowded neighborhoods and competed with Whites for jobs. During the migration, Perry and The Tribune served as an outlet to educate and inform Black Philadelphians, and it helped the new migrants adjust to the foreign city. It covered job openings, civic affairs, social events, and church news.[3] Rather than just report the news and keep their audience informed, the Tribune actively committed itself to help improve the standard of living for African Americans in Philadelphia.[9] The Tribune openly supported and advertised civic groups like The Armstrong Association, Negro Migration Committee, and the National Urban League of Philadelphia in order to combat the increasing discrimination found within the city.[9]

Great Migration Urban Populations

As the new migrants moved into White neighborhoods, violence swept through the city as White mobs formed to intimidate Black families. In 1914, after a White mob attacked and destroyed the new home of a Black woman, the Philadelphia Department of Public Safety neglected to investigate the crime and no White newspapers reported the incident. The managing editor of the Tribune, G. Grant Williams, reported the case and encouraged African Americans to join the police force.[10] The newspaper worked with the Colored Protective Association to help defend African Americans who were unfairly arrested. Williams also wrote articles on how to protect women from the racial violence and advice on morals and values.[11] As a way to create a cultural identity and unity among Black Philadelphians, the Tribune publicized free lectures and invited respected Church leaders to write columns for the paper.[12]

As the White men of Philadelphia traveled across the Atlantic to fight in World War I, industrial jobs opened up for African Americans and the Tribune covered the job market. However, when the war ended in 1918, the White men returned and competed with African Americans for jobs in the post-war recession. Since White men appeared more qualified for work, the Tribune spent the 1920s encouraging African Americans to receive an education or learn a trade at an industrial school.[13]

By 1920, the Tribune distributed 20,000 newspapers weekly and earned a reputation as one of the top African-American newspapers in the country.[3] However, in 1921, its owner and chief editor Christopher Perry died and was replaced by G. Grant Williams. Williams died in June 1922, and Eugene Washington Rhodes served as the editor until 1944.[14] Under Rhodes, the Tribune went through aesthetic enhancements as the print size and column size grew larger, and despite an increase in cost, the Tribune remained a hot seller.[14]

The Great Depression and New Deal[edit]

In April 1929, months before the Stock Market Crash, Philadelphia's Black unemployment rate was 45 percent higher than White unemployment.[15] During the Great Depression, African Americans in Philadelphia and throughout the country suffered higher levels of unemployment due to their lack of skills and qualifications.[16] Rhodes and the Tribune wrote articles to help African Americans improve their standard of living during the difficult times. The newspaper provided information on relief help by advertising Black social organizations, churches, and schools.[17] Also, by 1930, Tribune and the N.A.A.C.P. of Philadelphia would report unfair employment practices by local businesses and the negative publicity would pressure the businesses into reassessing their hiring process.[18]

When Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced his New Deal program in 1933, the Tribune covered the new federal relief agencies and exposed the discrimination some of the programs practiced against African Americans.[18] Although Roosevelt and the New Deal aimed to assist struggling Americans, the Tribune faced a political dilemma. Historically, the Tribune supported the Republican Party because of its ties to Abraham Lincoln and the Abolitionists. In order to keep Republicans in control of local and State politics, Rhodes and the Tribune remained loyal to the party of Lincoln and criticized Roosevelt and his Democratic Party.[19] The confusing message the Tribune offered allowed other African-American newspapers in Philadelphia to gain readers. In 1935, the Philadelphia Independent openly supported Roosevelt and the Democrats, and bypassed the Tribune as most popular African-American newspaper in Philadelphia with 30,000 weekly subscribers.[20] In the mid-1930s, Rhodes introduced new elements to the paper as a way to gain more readers. He added an editorial that showcased African-American achievements and also a comic strip to the weekly paper. However, some argue Rhodes used these new elements to promote middle-class values that reflected the principles of the Republican Party.[21]

Civil Rights[edit]

During the 1920s, after John Asbury and Andrew Stevens became the first African Americans elected to the Pennsylvania State legislature, the Tribune increased its political activity in the city.[22] In 1921, when the State legislature introduced an Equal Rights Bill, the Tribune reported which individuals opposed the bill.[23] The paper remained a strong advocate on the bill until 1935 when Pennsylvania passed its Equal Rights Bill.

Also during the 1920s and 1930s, the Tribune played a monumental role in officially ending segregation in Philadelphia schools. Upset over the Philadelphia School Board's lack of action to end segregation, The Tribune organized the Defense Fund Committee in 1926 which collected funds to use in court against the school board.[24] By 1932, the Tribune succeeded in appointing African Americans to the School Board and eventually ending segregation in Philadelphia's public schools.[17]

Thanks to the Tribune’s coverage and coalition with the N.A.A.C.P., Philadelphia captured national attention in 1965 when demonstrators protested to end segregation at Girard College. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paid Philadelphia a visit and solidified Philadelphia and the Tribune’s connection to the national Civil Rights movement.[25]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Banner-Haley, Charles Pete. "The Philadelphia Tribune and the Persistence of Black Republicanism during the Great Depression." In Pennsylvania History, Vol. 65 no. 2 (Spring 1998), 190-202.
  • Franklin, V.P. "Voice of the Black Community: The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1940." In Pennsylvania History Vol. 51 no. 4 (October, 1984), 261-284.
  • Taylor, Frederick. "Black Musicians in 'The Philadelphia Tribune,' 1912-20." In The Black Perspective in Music Vol. 18 no. 1/2 (1990), 127-140.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "About Us". The Philadelphia Tribune. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  2. ^ Franklin, V. P. (October 1984). "'The Voice of the Black Community': The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51, no. 4: 278.
  3. ^ a b c d Costello, Lisa. "The Philadelphia Tribune". PhilaPlace. Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  4. ^ a b Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 261.
  5. ^ "Perry, Christopher J. (1854-1920) | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed". www.blackpast.org. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  6. ^ a b c d Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 262.
  7. ^ a b Taylor, Frederick (1990). "Black Musicians in "The Philadelphia Tribune", 1912-1920". The Black Perspective in Music Vol. 18 no. 1/2: 128.
  8. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 263.
  9. ^ a b Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 266.
  10. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 268.
  11. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 265.
  12. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 264.
  13. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4.
  14. ^ a b Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""The Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 269.
  15. ^ Banner-Haley, Charles Pete (Spring 1998). "The Philadelphia Tribune and the Persistence of Black Republicanism during the Great Depression". Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. 65 no. 2: 193. 
  16. ^ "Great Depression | Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia". philadelphiaencyclopedia.org. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 
  17. ^ a b Franklin, V.P. (October 1984). "'The Voice of the Black Community': The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 273.
  18. ^ a b Franklin, V.P. (October 1984). "'The Voice of the Black Community': The Philadelphia Tribune, 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 274.
  19. ^ Banner-Haley, Charles Pete (Spring 1998). "The Philadelphia Tribune and the Persistence of Black Republicanism during the Great Depression". Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. Vol. 65 no. 2: 197.
  20. ^ Banner-Haley, Charles Pete (Spring 1998). "The Philadelphia Tribune and the Persistence of Black Republicanism during the Great Depression". Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. Vol. 65 no. 2: 196.
  21. ^ Banner-Haley, Charles Pete (Spring 1998). "The Philadelphia Tribune and the Persistence of Black Republicanism during the Great Depression". Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies. Vol. 65 no. 2: 198.
  22. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 270.
  23. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October, 1984). ""Voice of the Black Community": The Philadelphia Tribune 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 271.
  24. ^ Franklin, V.P. (October 1984). "'Voice of the Black Community': The Philadelphia Tribune 1912-1941". Pennsylvania History, Vol. 51 no. 4: 272.
  25. ^ "Stories from the First Great Migration to Philadelphia · Goin' North". goinnorth.org. Retrieved 2015-12-09. 

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