Alternative Media & the Black Press

Alternative Media & the Black Press


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Alternative Media and the Black Press Table




Black media was born as an alternative to status quo society, one that accepted slavery and the inequities of humanity and citizenship. At the beginning of U.S. society in the early 19th century two black men Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm sought to undermine the brutal and cruel propaganda of such instances as the “daily diatribes of Mordecai Noah, owner of several tabloids, including the New York Enquirer.”

There was then in March 1827 a half million free black men, women, and children who feared their well-being and existence in America, a place where the majority were born and a considerable number shared the white bloodlines of some of the most prominent of America’s leaders and statesmen. The black press further developed during the abolitionist movement in the 1840s onward under the leadership of Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany with The North Star and The Douglass Monthly.

Despite the promises of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the need for media that would represent the suppressed interests, ideas, and dreams of America’s colored citizens became more and more necessary with the reformation of the Confederacy with its suppression of the black franchise and opportunities to obtain wealth. With the Supreme Court’s Plessy decision, Jim Crow laws, legal segregation, retarded the educational, social, and economic progress. Numerous tactics were undertaken, including boycott, demonstrations, migration north and west, and legal means to counter what had become untenable for not only blacks but the nation itself.

Although many of those struggles peaked in the success of civil rights and voting rights bills in the 1960s, a black media remains necessary as a representative of black interests and perspectives. This media expanded from newspapers, into magazines, journals, radio, TV, and now the Internet, where numerous websites and blogs have been founded in the last two decades. This page intends to track these developments from the 19th century into the 21st century through published articles, links to other sites including those which contain videos. We hope that these efforts will stimulate discussion and other productions that encourage questions on the role and ethics of the black media in the struggles to guarantee human rights, dignity and integrity.

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The Colored American/Weekly Advocate—On January 7, 1837 Phillip A. Bell began to publish a weekly newspaper called Weekly Advocate. From the beginning, one of the major goals of this newspaper was to educate its subscribers, and much information appeared in a list format including: principal railroads, lengths of rivers, heights of principal mountains, principal colleges in the United States and the principal features of various countries of the nations of the earth

On March 4, 1837, issue number 9 of the newspaper was published under the new name of The Colored American, with Samuel E. Cornish as editor. The new motto was “RIGHTEOUSNESS EXALTETH A NATION,” and the paper was “…designed to be the organ of Colored Americans—to be looked on as their own, and devoted to their interests—through which they can make known their views to the public—can communicate with each other and their friends, and their friends with them; and to maintain their well-known sentiments on the subjects of Abolition and Colonization, viz.—emancipation without expatriation—the extirpation of prejudice—the enactment of equal laws, and a full and free investiture of their rights as men and citizens…”—accessible-archives

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 Racism: A History, the 2007 BBC 3-part documentary explores the impact of racism on a global scale. It was part of the season of programs on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It’s divided into 3 parts.

The first, The Colour of Money . . . Racism: A History [2007]—1/3

Begins the series by assessing the implications of the relationship between Europe, Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. It considers how racist ideas and practices developed in key religious and secular institutions, and how they showed up in writings by European philosophers Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.

The second, Fatal Impact . . . Racism: A History [2007] – 2/3

Examines the idea of scientific racism, an ideology invented during the 19th century that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. The episode shows how these theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race.

And the 3rd, A Savage Legacy . . .  Racism: A History [2007] – 3/3

Examines the impact of racism in the 20th century. By 1900 European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century’s greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule.

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From the Archives of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum

In this edition of October 1948 edition of The Negro Digest (published by John H. Johnson of Ebony/Jet fame), the featured story is a propaganda piece written by J. Edgar Hoover t…rying to recruit Negroes into the FBI!!! In the article, Hoover highlights the achievement of the Bureau’s first Negro agent, James Wormley Jones aka Jack Jones. Of course the article doesn’t mention that Jones sole purpose was to infiltrate Marcus Garvey’s UNIA. Jones completed his mission of helping to destroy the largest mass movement of African people in the world to that date and many argue up to this point. J. Edgar Hoover’s campaign went on from there with the mission to discredit, neutralize, and/or destroy every Black leader and organization that promoted an agenda that was opposed to America’s status quo.

The list of lives destroyed by Hoover is too long to list but just to give you an idea of the organizations and individuals: UNIA, Nation of Islam, SCLC, NACCP, SNCC, Republic of New Afrika, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Congress of Racial Equity, Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, and more—facebook

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African Genesis Media Group

The African Writer Is an Orphan

Blacks As Whipping Boys

Charles E Siler Bio

Charles Tisdale: Newspaper Man

Citizens As Journalists

Cornish and Russwurm

Cynthia McKinney Confronts Media Malice

Dingane Joe Goncalves 

Documenting the Black Press in America (Battle)

Farewell Letter from Curtis Muhammad

Frank Marshall Davis Speaks (Davis)

Frederick Douglass and the Progress of Photography (Wells)

Freedom’s Journal Book Review

Global News

The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo

A History of the Black Press  (Amana)

The Impact of the Internet on Journalism Practice in Nigeria

Journalist Hurls Shoes at Bush

Journal of Black Poetry Festival

Livin’ The Blues Contents (Frank Marshal Davis)

Lucille Bluford and the Kansas City Call

Media Crisis and Grassroots Response

The Media Fascist

Media problem with black lesbians

The Negro Newspaper 1948

Negro Press

The News Ain’t News

News at Noon

News Hour Scrapbook (poem; Lewis)

Open Letter to Dr. Hussein Shahristani

Open Letter to Ed Schultz, MSNBC

The Nigerian Media As Scapegoats

Reconciling, Audience, Nationalism, and Race in the Writings of Frederick Douglass

The State of Black Journalism (commentary; Lewis)

St. Martin Internet News: Samuel Allen, Jr.

Tom Paine and Anti-Americanism

A War on Error

What White Publishers Won’t Print

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Related Files:

Civil Rights: Struggle for Black Power

Education and History

Glen Ford

Jean Damu

John Maxwell Table

JR Stanton

Kam Williams

Making the Crackers Crumble (Borders)

Negro Progress in American Education

Payback for Bush  (Borders)

Power Plays and Useful Idiots (Borders)

Reforming  Education for Liberation

Selected Writings of Douglass and Others

Uche Nworah   

Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye 

The Venezuela Connection     

Wall Street Bailout, New Orleans Recovery

What Would “Dr. Kang” Say? 

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Policy and the Personal—Paul Krugman—15 July 2012—Perhaps in a better world we could count on the news media to sort through the conflicting claims. In this world, however, most voters get their news from short snippets on TV, which almost never contain substantive policy analysis. The print media do offer analysis pieces—but these pieces, out of a desire to seem “balanced,” all too often simply repeat the he-said-she-said of political speeches. Trust me: you will see very few news analyses saying that Mr. Romney proposes huge tax cuts for the rich, with no plausible offset other than big benefit cuts for everyone else—even though this is the simple truth. Instead, you will see pieces reporting that “Democrats say” that this is what Mr. Romney proposes, matched with dueling quotes from Republican sources.

So how can the Obama campaign cut through this political and media fog? By talking about Mr. Romney’s personal history, and the way that history resonates with the realities of his pro-rich, anti-middle-class policy proposals. . . . The point is that talking about Mr. Romney’s personal history isn’t a diversion from substantive policy discussion. On the contrary, in a political and media environment strongly biased against substance, talking about Bain and offshore accounts is the only way to bring the real policy issues into focus. And we should applaud, not condemn, the Obama campaign for standing up to the tut-tutters.—nytimes

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Bill Raspberry Role Model—E.J. Dionne, Jr.—18 July 2012—William Raspberry was a provocateur who was so gentle and gentlemanly that you didn’t always grasp how much he was shaking up the conventional conversation until you actually thought about what he had just said. He was so open to the views of others that it was easy to miss that his convictions were as hard as steel. / The columnist, who died Tuesday at the age of 76, was a legend, yet he never acted like the truly famous person and breakthrough figure he was. Pomposity was, in his mind, one of the gravest sins. Although he was a teacher to all who cared to listen, he always gave the impression that he was the one learning from everybody else. He cared profoundly about morality, and particularly parental responsibility, but his moral lessons often came surrounded by chuckles and laughter. They were no less serious for that. / Raspberry’s importance to journalism will be measured in different ways. The headlines will focus on the fact that he was one of the first widely syndicated African-American columnists. / He really was a pioneer and a “role model,” a phrase he used seriously sometimes but usually poked fun at it as one of those expressions that loses its meaning from overuse.

It will be noted that he was a staunch advocate of civil rights who could also pick fights with what gets referred to as “the civil rights establishment.” He was an advocate of civility who practiced it. He often used his columns to float the interesting ideas of others, even when they were ideas he was not yet sure he fully agreed with. If the thoughts or plans or proposals struck him as interesting, he wanted his readers to know about them.—truthdig

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Typically, the early black newspapers rarely lasted more than a year or two for several reasons. First, the target audience, the base population of educated free blacks, was seldom large enough to financially support a weekly newspaper. Second, most of these newspapers ignored the many literate but uneducated free blacks that lived in the North. A third reason was that the publishers usually lacked adequate funds to weather the difficult early years.

So, while more than 40 black newspapers were founded before the start of the Civil War, most of them lasted only a year or two, suffering from financial problems and a small readership. Nonetheless, the black press spread westward, as far as Kansas by 1855 with the start of the Kansas Herald of Freedom in Lawrence. The earliest black newspaper on the west coast, San Francisco’s Mirror of the Times, appeared the same year. All of them protested the lack of civil rights for blacks in the North and protested against the inhumanity of southern slavery.—Tony Seybert, “The Historic Black Press”

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[Booker T.] Washington and the Tuskegee Institute secretly funded a number of black newspapers to promote his philosophy of accommodation. T. Thomas Fortune, often hailed as the finest black journalist of his time, edited the New York Age, the most important of the newspapers supporting accommodation.

Most black newspapers tended to be conservative, supporting the ideas of Washington. Yet, the most important dissenting black paper, the Boston Guardian, often criticized Washington, charging him with placing his interests in the Tuskegee school before the interests of the black race as a whole. The editor, William Monroe Trotter, wrote savage editorials about Washington and took several members of his staff to a Boston lecture to disrupt a Washington speech. Although most newspapers supported Washington, some black papers, such as William Calvin Chase’s Washington Bee, maintained independence from both camps.—Tony Seybert, “The Historic Black Press

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In 1905, Robert S. Abbott started the Chicago Defender, possibly the nation’s most important and influential black newspaper of all times. Where black newspapers had previously tended towards a sober tone, Abbott adopted a sensational style of reporting, mimicking the yellow journalism of William Randolph Hearst’s newspaper empire. Flamboyant stories about crime and violence, some of them fabricated by Abbott’s writers, attracted a large number of regular readers within the black population that had seldom before read newspapers.

By 1920, the Defender claimed a circulation of almost 300,000. Yet, its actual number of readers was much higher, because multiple readers looked at every copy of the paper as it was passed from hand to hand. More than two-thirds of the circulation came from outside Chicago, and the Defender enjoyed great popularity in the South. Along with lurid tales of sex and crime to attract readers, the Defender also raised awareness with articles on lynching, segregation, and black achievement. Abbott also editorialized on white hypocrisy and offered advice on the advancement of the race.

The newspaper’s most famous crusade, “the Great Northern Drive,” started during World War I (WW I) and urged southern blacks to move north to take advantage of war jobs in the northern cities and escape southern brutality.

Thousands of blacks, encouraged by the Defender and other newspapers, left the South and went to northern industrial cities; this constituted the largest movement of people in the nation’s history.—Tony Seybert, “The Historic Black Press”

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The Afro Newspaper Morgue Collections—This website was developed as a catalogue of a once “covered” resource, the Afro-American Newspaper morgue files. Thanks to funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Johns Hopkins University and the Afro partnered to mine through the morgue files to create for the first time an inventory of the newspaper’s archival holdings and present them in an online environment. This site utilizes an open source archival database management system known as Archon, originally created at the University of Illinois-Champagne-Urbana, to arrange and describe the holdings for presentation to the public at large. The ultimate goal of this website is to expose users to this rich archival inventory and expand the wealth of material already available in the digital archive world.

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Afro-American Black History Archives

Ollie Stewart  / Max Johnson / Vincent Tubbs / Herbert M. Frisby /Elizabeth M. Phillips

Harlem in Montmartre: A Paris Jazz Story between the Great Wars


Fletcher P. Martin, the first African American to receive a Nieman Fellowship, died from complications of diabetes on November 27, 2005. He was 89 years old. A native of McMinnville, Tennessee, Martin graduated from Louisville Municipal College in 1938 and quickly became city, editor of the Louisville Leader, a weekly with 20 employees and 22,000-circulation that covered the African-American community.

In 1942, he joined the Louisville Defender as a feature writer and continued to cover African-Americans issues. He spent 22 months in the South Pacific during World War II, earning the titles of first accredited war correspondent from Louisville and first . . .—highbeam

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Harry S. McAlpin was the first African-American reporter credentialed to the White House, where he covered Presidents Roosevelt and Truman for 51 black newspapers. He was also a Navy war correspondent and spokesman for the Department of Agriculture. Later McAlpin practiced law in Louisville, Ky.—This I Believe

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The Associated Negro Press, a national and international news agency, was established in Chicago in 1919 by Claude Barnett. A graduate of Tuskegee Institute, Barnett was deeply influenced by the self-help/service-to-the-race philosophy of Tuskegee’s founder, Booker T. Washington, and served on the governing boards of such organizations as Supreme Liberty Life Insurance, the American Negro Exposition in Chicago of 1940, and Tuskegee.

With correspondents and stringers in all major centers of black population, ANP provided its member papers—the vast majority of black newspapers—with a twice-weekly packet of general and feature news that gave African American newspapers a critical, comprehensive coverage of personalities, events, and institutions relevant to the lives of black Americans.

After 1945, ANP established a significant presence in Africa. By the late 1950s some 75 African papers subscribed to the service’s weekly news packets in French as well as English.

Beset by climbing debts and Barnett’s failing health, ANP ceased operation in midsummer 1964. His Associated Negro Press provided a vital service to one of black America’s most important institutions during an era when African American newspapers realized record circulations, profits, and influence.—encyclopedia

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The Afro-American Newspaper Goes to War—The Baltimore-based newspaper The Afro-American has been in existence since 1892 under the proprietorship of the Murphy family, and by the 1940’s had forged a place at the forefront of African-American journalism. The newspaper is still in business today and is online at Founded by John Murphy, a former slave, the Afro-American has grown from a church weekly to one of the nations leading black newspapers. The newspaper has used it’s column inches to campaign for the civil rights of African-Americans throughout the 20th century, from opposing the persistence of racist “Jim Crow” laws in the South to defending eminent figures such as W.E. DuBois and Paul Robeson during the McCarthy-era anti-communism of the 1950’s.[1] During World War 2, when the U.S. military was still segregated along racial lines The Afro-American sent correspondents to cover the fighting alongside the various black American units that served in both the European and Pacific theatres.

These men and one woman were relaying to an audience of Maryland and Washington D.C. African Americans the roles fulfilled by black American troops, fighting in a segregated military abroad. The primary impact of black and white Americans serving together was to be felt socially in the post-war years. The Civil Rights movement that gained momentum in the 1950’s owed much to the fact that many people engaged in war work during the 1940’s, who in peacetime would never interact with one another on grounds of race, were challenged by their shared wartime experiences.—123helpme

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During several periods of his life, Douglass tired to influence public opinion through the press as well as on the lecture circuit. First he founded The North Star, a weekly anti-slavery newspaper published in Rochester, N.Y., from December 3, 1847, to April 17, 1851. The collection contains autograph copies of many of his editorials as well as the paper’s ledger books. Later publishing ventures were Frederick Douglass’ Paper (1851-60) and Douglass’ Monthly (1859-63), both emanating from Rochester, and the New National Era (1870-74), published in Washington, D.C. There are no copies of these in the collection. (1) Speeches and articles by Douglass’ contemporaries form subseries F of the speech, article, and book file.—Library of Congress

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Douglass established the abolitionist paper The North Star on December 3, 1847, in Rochester, NY, and developed it into the most influential black antislavery paper published during the antebellum era. It was used to not only denounce slavery, but to fight for the emancipation of women and other oppressed groups. Its motto was “Right is of no Sex —Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” It was circulated to more than 4,000 readers in the United States, Europe, and the West Indies. In June 1851 the paper merged with the Liberty Party Paper of Syracuse, NY and was renamed Frederick Douglass’ Paper. It circulated under this new name until 1860. Douglass devoted the next three years to publishing an abolitionist magazine called Douglass’ Monthly. In 1870 he assumed control of the New Era, a weekly established in Washington, D.C. to serve former slaves. He renamed it The New National Era, and published it until it shut down in 1874.—pbs

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The National Era, a weekly abolitionist newspaper, published a wider range of material which, unlike the National Anti-Slavery Standard, was not exclusively dedicated to the slavery issue. The Era was a mixture of anecdotes, poems, letters, short stories, bulletins, notations and transcripts collected and written by persons within the United States and foreign countries. The editor of the paper was interested in publishing literary ideas as well as developments and changes taking place during this period of history. Glancing across a typical page of the Era one might find a poem on nature; next to it an anecdote for “good wives;” under this a letter from a congressman; in another column a short essay on laughter and between these an article on the constitutional question of slavery. The issue of slavery was a major part of the newspaper but it also allowed the reader a moment of diversion only to be caught in the next column with some development on the “evils” of slavery.

The National Era was also a paper for keeping abreast of important local events and happenings on a world-wide basis. Whether it was in the area of education, political science, economics, philosophy, literature or business, the Era provided news interspersed with entertaining essays for its readers. With transportation and communication between the major cities and ports still undeveloped, the National Era provided the reader with additional news in the form of excerpts and editorials from papers such as the Liberty Bell, New York Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, Cincinnati Gazette, Boston Courier and London Daily Times. Historians and men of letters both find this newspaper useful for its historical documentation and literary content.—spring grove

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The New National Era Reports Washington Social Life—The long-anticipated matrimonial affair in high colored circles came off this evening. About one hundred ladies and gentlemen…were assembled. Among the more prominent present were Senator Revels of Mississippi, Frederick Douglass, Professor Wilson, cashier of the Freedmen’s Savings Bank, [and] Dr. Purvis. . . . The bride…is a young lady of twenty-one years, petite in figure and of more than ordinary beauty…The groom, Mark R. De Mortie, is at present engaged in business in Richmond, Virginia, where he is one of the owners of a manufacture of oil of sassafras. . . . The guests then retired to an elaborate supper…[in a room] fitted up for the occasion, the ceiling being made up of American flags—The New National Era, May 26, 1870.

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Douglass’s publishing career was to span almost three decades. In 1851, he merged the North Star with another journal, The Liberty Party Paper, and formed Frederick Douglass’ Paper. In January 1859, in addition to the Frederick Douglass’ Paper (FDP), he began to publish another journal, Douglass’ Monthly (which had been originally produced as a supplement to FDP). He stopped publishing Douglass’ Monthly during the Civil War, but in 1870 he purchased 50% interest in the Washington, D.C. paper the New Era. In September of that year the first issue of the New National Era was published.

Frederick Douglass was first and foremost an abolitionist and civil rights activist. Fighting against his own slavery from his earliest youth, he continued to fight against the institution of slavery until its abolition. He spoke and lectured widely for the cause throughout the 1840s and 1850s. In 1849, 1850 and 1851, he organized his own series of lectures in Rochester. He wrote a novella entitled The Heroic Slave, an abolitionist work of fiction published in 1852 in Autographs for Freedom. The Autographs for Freedom was sold as a fundraiser for anti-slavery activities.—winningthevote

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The Christian Recorder—Published by the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, for the Dissemination of Religion, Morality, Literature and Science.” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Christian Recorder was first published in 1854 under the editorship of the Rev. J.P. Campbell. This early edition was short-lived, however, and in 1861, under the editorship of Elisha Weaver, the New Series, Volume 1 began. Under this new leadership the Recorder was introduced into the South by distribution among the negro regiments in the Union army. Benjamin T. Tanner became editor in 1867, and was followed in that position in 1885 by the Rev. Benjamin F. Lee who served until 1892.

The Christian Recorder embodied secular as well as religious material, and included good coverage of the black regiments together with the major incidents of the Civil War. The four-page weekly contained such departments as Religious Intelligence, Domestic News, General Items, Foreign News, Obituaries, Marriages, Notices and Advertisements. It also included the normal complement of prose and poetry found in the newspapers of the day.—accessible

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The Provincial Freeman—This weekly newspaper was edited and published by negroes in the Province of Canada West (now called Ontario) where many fugitive slaves from the United States had settled. The first number, intended as a specimen, was issued at Windsor, dated March 24, 1854. The editor was Samuel A. Ward.

Mary Ann (Shadd) Carey was born on October 9, 1823, into a prominent black family in Wilmington, Delaware, the eldest of thirteen children. When she was ten years old, her parents moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where she attended a Quaker school for 5 years. Early in her life she became dedicated to the promotion of self-reliance and independence among black Canadians. She helped found the Provincial Freeman and became the first black North American female editor and publisher, with the purpose of transforming black refugees into model citizens. In 1856 she married Thomas F. Carey of Toronto, and the couple lived in Chatham, Canada, until his death in 1860. Mary Carey ultimately moved to Washington, D.C. where she opened a school for black children and in 1870 she became the first black woman lawyer in the United States.

The Provincial Freeman was devoted to Anti-Slavery, Temperance and General Literature, and was affiliated with no particular Political Party. Its prospectus stated, “it will open its columns to the views of men of different political opinions, reserving the right, as an independent Journal, of full expression on all questions or projects affecting the people in a political way; and reserving, also, the right to express emphatic condemnation of all projects, having for their object in a great or remote degree, the subversion of the principles of the British Constitution, or of British rule in the Provinces.” In July, 1856, the office was seized for debt and publication was suspended until Nov. 25, when issue number 16 was published. The volume was closed with issue number 49, August 22, 1857.—accessible-archives

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New National Era—In 1870, Douglass began publishing his own newspaper, the New National Era. He hoped it would hold the nation to its post-Civil War commitment of equality. Increasingly, however, he was forced to work behind the lines of segregation, as a black leadership formed to pressure the new GOP president, Ulysses Grant.

Financial Troubles—Douglass became the President of the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company in 1974. The bank failed several months later. That same year, New National Era folded, causing Douglass to lose ten thousand dollars. When Rutherford B. Hayes won the contested presidential election, Douglass took the job of Marshall of DC, largely for the job security.—pbs

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Lucy Eldine Gonzalez Parsons (born circa 1853 – March 7, 1942) was an American labor organizer and radical socialist. She is remembered as a powerful orator. Lucy (or Lucia) Eldine Gonzalez was born around 1853 in Texas, likely as a slave, to parents of Native American, Black American and Mexican ancestry.

In 1871 she married Albert Parsons, a former Confederate soldier, and both were forced to flee from Texas north to Chicago by intolerant reactions to their interracial marriage. Described by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters” in the 1920s, Parsons and her husband had become highly effective anarchist organizers primarily involved in the labor movement in the late 19th century, but also participating in revolutionary activism on behalf of political prisoners, people of color, the homeless and women.

She began writing for The Socialist and The Alarm, the journal of the International Working People’s Association (IWPA) which she and Parsons, among others, founded in 1883.

In 1886 her husband, who had been heavily involved in campaigning for the eight hour day, was arrested, tried and executed on November 11, 1887, by the state of Illinois on charges that he had conspired in the Haymarket Riot—an event which was widely regarded as a political frame-up, and which marked the beginning of May Day labor rallies in protest.—Wikipedia

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Henry Lee Moon was a famous journalist, writer and NAACP executive. He attended Howard University and got his masters from Ohio State University before becoming the Director of Public Relations at Tuskegee Institute. He briefly worked at New York’s The Amsterdam News before becoming the NAACP’s director of public relations in 1948. He wrote the classic Balance of Power: The Negro Vote and his writing also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The London Tribune, and The Chicago Defender. He served as The Crisis magazine’s editor from 1966 to 1974.—


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A few years ago, I was doing research on Blacklabor leaders during the 1940s, since History acts like the only one We had was Asa Philip Randolph, when I came across the following passage in the book, Steel and Steelworkers: Race and Class Struggle in 20th Century Pittsburgh, p.93 [John H. Hinshaw]: “In August 1946, 250 Black and a few white steelworkers staged a sit-down strike over racist hiring and promotion …policies at J&L’s coke ovens, the fifth wildcat since 1941. The leaders of the strike were two brothers, Charles and Harold Winbush, who compared the ‘slow strangulation of Negroes on the job in Pennsylvania to [a recent] lynching in Georgia.'” My jaw dropped and tears welled up in my eyes since the two Winbush brothers were my Uncle (Charles) and Dad (Harold)! I called the author of the book, John Hinshaw, who teaches history at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, and he told me that he had gotten the information about my Dad and Uncle from old copies of The Pittsburgh Courier, one of the leading Black newspapers in the country (it ceased publication in 1966), and that “I should be proud of the work my Dad did for Black steelworkers during World War II and afterwards in Pittsburgh.” He didn’t have to tell me that, since I’ve always been proud of my Dad who made his Transition in 1979. Here’s a picture of him that was taken on November 16, 1949 after he was fired for organizing Black steelworkers in Pittsburgh and forced to move to Cleveland, Ohio to seek work at the E. F. Hauserman company

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Mobilizing the Masses: The Cleveland Call and Post and the Scottsboro Incident—Felecia G. Jones Ross—The infamous Scottsboro incident in which nine Black youths were falsely accused of raping two white women exemplified the changing racial climate and competing ideologies of the 1930s. Although white society abhorred the notion of Black male-white female liaisons, the case forced the country to look at its racist practices through the lens of its justice system. . . .The Black community in Cleveland, Ohio, and its newspaper, the Call and Post were a microcosm of the trends and activities of the period. As a result of the World War I-era migrations, the city’s Black population more than tripled. As did other urban areas, Cleveland’s Black population became distinctive because of segregated residential patterns and the establishment of racially identifiable churches, organizations, and businesses. The Call and Post was one of the Black newspapers that thrived during the Depression. Its editor, William O. Walker, used his journalistic experience and business training in 1932 to transform a newly merged, floundering newspaper into a major voice for the community.—

Howard University Archives

Blue Note—A Story of Modern Jazz

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Rachel Maddow explains what the hell ‘Fast and Furious’ is all about—21 June 2012—On Wednesday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow explained exactly what’s going on with “Fast and Furious” why House Republicans voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. in contempt of Congress.

We now live in what Maddow calls a “bifurcated society,” in which conservative Americans get all of their news strictly from conservative sources and everyone else gets their information from a more heterogeneous group of sources, hopefully. As a result, at times people on the right seem to be speaking an entirely different language than other people. Yesterday was one of those times.

The “Fast and Furious” flap building on Capitol Hill is an instance of Republicans in power trying to transfer a phenomenon out of their tightly controlled, information-proof right wing news bubble and manifest it in the real world. Whether the controversy will survive the transition remains to be seen.

The whole mess, howeve

r, has its origins in the fevered imaginings of Alabama militiaman Michael Vanderboegh, a blogger and writer of Timothy McVeigh-inspired anti-federal government fiction. Vanderboegh, who, when health care reform was passed in March of 2010, urged conservatives to commit acts of violence against Democratic headquarters across the country.—rawstory

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The black press: setting the political agenda during World War II

 By Charles G. Spellman

Credo for the Negro Press

I Shall Be A Crusader…

I Shall Be An Advocate…

I Shall Be A Herald…

I Shall Be A Mirror And A Record…

I Shall Have Integrity…

I Shall be a crusader and an advocate, a mirror and a record, a herald and a spotlight, and I Shall not falter.

So help me God.

The Credo, written by Journal and Guide editor P. Bernard Young, Jr. represents a declaration to provide truth, honesty, and service to the black community. When the Credo was written, the black press was the sole “Voice of the Negro.” As a crusader, the black press fought vigorously for Negro rights. As an advocate, the black press fought vigorously to ban “Jim Crow” laws which legally sanctioned segregation. As a herald, the black press was the bearer of both good and bad news, always heralding those causes that others would suppress out of bias or perceived lack of interest.

The black press gained its respectful reputation for being the “Voice of the Negro” in the early days of segregation and unconscionable discrimination. African Americans were often negatively depicted in the white media. The negative images were reflective of the perceptions held by many whites, resulting in the development of the advocacy movement by the black press. . . .

When the war [World War II] began, the news and information needs of the black community increased. The absence of news about African Americans in the segregated white media inspired additional coverage by the black press. As the only means of constant mass communication information particularly relevant to the African American, the black press assumed the awesome responsibility of relating the activities of the war to its readership. As reporting increased, so did newspaper circulation. Since the primary news of interest to African Americans appeared in the black press, it reached its peak circulation during the war years. The Pittsburgh Courier had a circulation of 350,000; the Chicago Defender, 230,000; the Baltimore Afro-American, 170,000 and the Norfolk Journal and Guide, 100,000.

The black press enhanced the political awareness of its readership during World War II while mobilizing black public opinion. As America went to war to fight against Nazism and Fascism abroad, the black press formulated a political agenda at home. Theoretically, “the [black] press did not tell its readership what to think; it told its readership what to think about.”

The black press reported vital information that increased awareness about war activities and black participation in the armed services. As significant political information about the state of black affairs in the Armed Services was gathered and reported in the black press, black opinion leaders emerged. Ministers, politicians and community leaders were responsible conduits for spreading the word about the war. Consequently, government, political, social, and wartime issues were covered with great care. Important issues concerning the acceptance of African Americans in the armed forces, the types of jobs African Americans would have in the armed forces, the treatment of African Americans in the Armed forces, and whether or not African Americans would be allowed the “right to fight” for their country were among the most important issues covered.

What emerges from the analysis of news coverage is a composite picture of a black press that generally supported the involvement and participation of African Americans in the war effort. For example, the Afro-American Newspaper, based in Baltimore, Maryland, led the way [We Are For War,” Editorial, September 16, 1939—


*   *   *   *   *

Covering a Two-Front War African-American Correspondents during World War II

(Elliot Parker)

“I shall be a crusader and an advocate, a mirror and a record, a herald and a spotlight, and I shall not falter” (P. Bernard Young, Jr., “Credo For The Negro Press,” Journal and Guide, Special Section, 22 July 1944). The Norfolk Journal and Guide’s editor, P. Bernard Young, Jr., published this “Credo For The Negro Press” in his column on July 22, 1944. It captured both the spirit of the African-American press in general and a significant—yet little known—dimension of foreign correspondence. On that July day, World War II was at its height. The Journal and Guide reporters were giving readers “exclusive stories from a war front” that filled a gap in establishment reporting “(War Correspondent Arrives Overseas,” Journal and Guide, 8 May 1943, 1).

American news media put 1,646 accredited reporters into the field during World War II, more than any other nation. Their coverage was notable for the level of professionalism and its impact back home, particularly as a result of the pioneering use of radio. The reporting of great correspondents from this period, many of them women, has been collected into lengthy anthologies, analyzed in written histories and television documentaries, and memorialized in a human-interest writing award in the name of Ernie Pyle, who lost his life in a Pacific battlefield.

While histories and anthologies of war coverage have piled up, so has scholarship on the African-American press. Books, articles, and dissertations have discussed the role of African-American journalism throughout the sweep of American history. Considerable attention has been given to the individual men and women who owned, wrote for, and edited African-American publications.

And yet, for all this activity, with the exception of a thirty-year-old descriptive overview  it is difficult to find more than cursory reference to African-American war correspondents in either genre of history—that of foreign correspondence or that of the African-American press {John D. Stevens, “From the Back of the Foxhole: Black Correspondents in World War I,” Journalism Monograph, 1973). This is so even in studies devoted to African-American journalism during the period of World War II.

As a result, a significant group of African-American men—and one woman—remains invisible in the history of both the mainstream and African-American press. Twenty-seven African-American war correspondents worked, often under fire, in all theatres of World War II. This diverse group included notable reporters, columnists, and even an owner’s son, among them Edgar Rouzeau, David Ortiz, Scoop Jones, Fletcher Martin, Frank Bolden, Thomas W. Young, Lem Graves Jr., and John “Rover” Jordan. Papers for which they worked included the Pittsburgh Courier, the Chicago Defender, the Afro-American, and the Norfolk Journal and Guide. The white press even ran some of their stories.—list.msu

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“This Is Our War:” Ollie Stewart at Normandy

By Todd Steven Burroughs


Among those Negro newspapers covering World War II with its own personnel was The Afro-American. Its overseas correspondents included Max Johnson, Vincent Tubbs, Art Carter, Elizabeth M. Phillips, Herbert M. Frisby and Ollie Stewart. Below is an excerpt of one of Stewart’s articles, under the subhead “Normandy Beachhead,” written after the 1944 D-Day invasion of the French beaches of Normandy by the Allies.

The excerpt is taken from “This Is Our War,” a collection of AFRO World War II articles the company self-published in 1945:

Stories of heroic deeds by Colored troops have come to me from every angle since my arrival on a Normandy beachhead exactly one month after departure from the U.S.A. Leaving from England, Colored soldiers loaded us on a boat, other accompanied us over, and still others unloaded us and much equipment on the beach they helped win from the enemy during the first few days of the invasion.

I am writing this beneath an apple tree by the roadside, with fat cattle grazing nearby, unmindful of the trucks rushing to the front with men and supplies, of the incessant pounding of artillery not far up the road. All last night, guns shook the ground on which I slept. Our Long Toms slugged it out with German 88’s in a duel that has no end.

I am staying with a quartermaster outfit whose medical officer is Capt. Charles I. West of Washington, brother of Maj. John B. West. In the next tent is Warrant Officer Vincent Piedra of New York. The outfit already has five purple hearts for wounds resulting from enemy action, awarded to Staff Sergeant Leo Chenault, Indianapolis; Pfc. Clordie Caldwell, Kings Creek, N.C.; Pfc. Wilfert Fox, Jonesboro, N.C.; Pfc. Arlander Barker, Chicago, and Pfc. Austin Anderson, Wilmington, Del.

Another unit has among its personnel Cpl. John Hawkins of Pine Bluff, Ark., who shot down a German plane on D-Day while landing under fire with a trucking company. Hawkins used a 50-calibre machine gun mounted on the truck to down the raider, which was attempting to strafe a troop concentration. The Nazi pilot bailed out and was later captured.

Pvt. George McClain, 2263 E. 95th Street, Cleveland, Ohio, helped captures a German on D-Day soon after landing. The same day he went to the front before he knew it


driving a load of infantrymen up the road into a town still held by the Germans, but he made a quick turn and fled under fire by both sides. Everywhere I go are tales of our lads who waded ashore in water up to their necks, with their trucks waterproofed, to take part in the assault that forced Jerry [ apparently Allied slang for the German soldier] from his strong points.

Many are still saying, “I don’t know how we did it, after seeing how Jerry was dug in.” All along the beach were concrete pillboxes, barbed wire and gun emplacements —

Downtown LA Life

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Ollie Stewart, the Paris-based foreign correspondent for the Afro-American newspaper from 1949 to 1977. Articles and lively columns this expat wrote provided his and foreigners’ views about events that were shaping America. He continually addressed race, U.S. foreign policy, politics and the achievements and activities blacks abroad, thereby providing information that was not in the mainstream media and filling an important void press and American history.—aejmc

*   *   *   *   *

J.B. Borders is a social commentator and cultural critic. He is also president of J.B. Borders & Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning, fund development, and program implementation and evaluation for nonprofit organizations. Borders was

Borders has acted professionally on stage with the Free Southern Theater and in a long-running production of the hit jazz-musical One Mo’ Time. He has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild since 1976 and has had roles in over two dozen feature and made-for-TV films and commercials. A former award-winning journalist, Borders has been editor of The Black Collegian Magazine and the New Orleans Tribune, a newsmonthly he co-founded in 1985.

He has also been a reporter for the New Orleans States-Item. Borders currently writes Borderline, a monthly column of cultural and political commentary for the New Orleans Tribune.He has also served as managing director of the National Black Arts Festival and executive director of the Louisiana Division of the Arts. Borders earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at Brown University, where he co-founded Rites & Reason Theatre in 1969.



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The Black Press Is Dead. Get Over It—Bruce A. Dixon—When you think of the black press, what persons and institutions come to mind? Frederick Douglass? Ida B. Wells? The old Chicago Daily Defender and Pittsburgh Courier? Today’s NNPA and the National Association of Black Journalists? Tavis Smiley on PBS, brought to you by Wal-Mart and Bank of America? CNN’s Roland Martin? “Much of black media really is awful,” observed former Capitol Hill staffer Yvette Carnell of, on Facebook only yesterday “so let’s put them on blast, shall we,” and linked to a page of representative snippets.

If anything, Ms. Carnell is too kind. Arguably, the black press has been dead a long, long time now. Most black reporters work for white-oriented, corporate-owned outlets. What used to be “the black conversation” is now locked down and mediated by Sony, CBS-Viacom, Clear Channel, and the like. Broadcasters, even black ones, no longer, or in some cases never have regarded Black America as a polity, with its own traditions, values and aspirations.

“The owners and managers of commercial black radio and TV are not the least concerned about our past or future, our housing or health care crises, the black imprisonment rate or the digital divide or the education of our young or the dignified security of our elderly. To them we are just a market, passive consumers to be sliced and diced according to marketing industry guidelines.”

There was a time when the black press played a key role in tying together and defining local and national African American communities, when it truly echoed many of the authentic voices of a people struggling for justice and dignity. . . . This is the twenty-first century. This is a corps of black journalists adrift without paddles in the big white corporate shark pond, doing what they think they have to, or think they want to. We can’t count on them for much of anything.

With the exception of a very few outlets not dependent on corporate advertising dollars, like the Final Call, the black press is pretty much dead. It’s time we acknowledge this truth, get over it, and move on.—blackagendareport

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

It’s The Middle Class Stupid!

By James Carville and Stan Greenberg

It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! confirms what we have all suspected: Washington and Wall Street have really screwed things up for the average American. Work has been devalued. Education costs are out of sight. Effort and ambition have never been so scantily rewarded. Political guru James Carville and pollster extraordinaire Stan Greenberg argue that our political parties must admit their failures and the electorate must reclaim its voice, because taking on the wealthy and the privileged is not class warfare—it is a matter of survival. Told in the alternating voices of these two top political strategists, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! provides eye-opening and provocative arguments on where our government—including the White House—has gone wrong, and what voters can do about it. 

Controversial and outspoken, authoritative and shrewd, It’s the Middle Class, Stupid! is destined to make waves during the 2012 presidential campaign, and will set the agenda for legislative battles and political dust-ups during the next administration.

*   *   *   *   * 

Pictures and Progress

Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity

Edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn Michelle Smith

Pictures and Progress explores how, during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, prominent African American intellectuals and activists understood photography’s power to shape perceptions about race and employed the new medium in their quest for social and political justice. They sought both to counter widely circulating racist imagery and to use self-representation as a means of empowerment. In this collection of essays, scholars from various disciplines consider figures including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and W. E. B. Du Bois as important and innovative theorists and practitioners of photography. In addition, brief interpretive essays, or “snapshots,” highlight and analyze the work of four early African American photographers. Featuring more than seventy images, Pictures and Progress brings to light the wide-ranging practices of early African American photography, as well as the effects of photography on racialized thinking.

*   *   *   *   *

Writings of Frank Marshall Davis

A Voice of the Black Press

Edited by John Edgar Tidwell

Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987) was a central figure in the black press, working as reporter and editor for the Atlanta World, the Associated Negro Press, the Chicago Star, and the Honolulu Record. Writings of Frank Marshall Davis presents a selection of Davis’s nonfiction, providing an unprecedented insight into one journalist’s ability to reset the terms of public conversation and frame the news to open up debate among African Americans and all Americans.  During the middle of the twentieth century, Davis set forth a radical vision that challenged the status quo. His commentary on race relations, music, literature, and American culture was precise, impassioned, and engaged. At the height of World War II, Davis boldly questioned the nature of America’s potential postwar relations and what they meant for African Americans and the nation. His work challenged the usefulness of race as a social construct, and he eventually disavowed the idea of race altogether. Throughout his career, he championed the struggles of African Americans for equal rights and laboring people seeking fair wages and other benefits.

In his reviews on music, he argued that blues and jazz were responses to social conditions and served as weapons of racial integration. His book reviews complemented his radical vision by commenting on how literature reshapes one’s understanding of the world. Even his travel writings on Hawaii called for cultural pluralism and tolerance for racial and economic difference. Writings of Frank Marshall Davis reveals a writer in touch with the most salient issues defining his era and his desire to insert them into the public sphere. John Edgar Tidwell provides an introduction and contextual notes on each major subject area Davis explored.

*   *   *   *   *

The Black Press: New Literary and Historical Essays

By Todd Vogel

In a segregated society in which minority writers and artists could find few ways to reach an audience, journalism gave them access to diverse U.S. communities. The original essays in this volume show how marginalized voices attempted to be heard in their day. The Black Press progresses chronologically from abolitionist newspapers to today’s Internet and reveals how the black press’s content and its very form changed with evolving historical conditions in America. The essays address the production, distribution, regulation, and reception of black journalism, illustrating a more textured public discourse, one that exchanges ideas not just within the black community, but also within the nation at large. The contributors demonstrate that African American journalists redefined class, restaged race and nationhood, and reset the terms of public conversation, providing a fuller understanding of the varied cultural battles fought throughout our country’s history. Dayton Library  / Questia

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P.B. Young, Newspaperman

Race, Politics, and Journalism in the New South, 1910-1962

By Henry Lewis Suggs

P.B. Young, the son of a former slave, published the Norfolk Journal and Guide , a black weekly, for more than 50 years, until his death in 1962. From a circulation of a few hundred in 1909 to a circulation of 75,000 during the 1950s, the Guide became the largest press in the South. This book explores P.B. Young’s personal history and charts his positions on a variety of social issues.

Historians have largely neglected the Guide and its editor. Henry Lewis Suggs, mainly using Young’s personal papers (heretofore closed to scholars) and the files of the Guide, fills that historiographical void  . . .The book will almost certainly remain the definitive study of P.B. Young.—David B. Parker,

Another neglected figure in black history has been rescued from obscurity in this biography of Plummer Bernard Young . . .Suggs has thoroughly researched his subject.—Theodore Kornweibel, Jr.

*   *   *   *   *

A History of the Black Press By Armistead S. Pride and Clint C. Wilson II

In this work, Dr. Wilson chronicles the development of black newspapers in New York City and draws parallels to the development of presses in Washington, D.C., and in 46 of the 50 United States. He describes the involvement of the press with civil rights and the interaction of black and nonblack columnists who contributed to black- and white-owned newspapers. . . . Through reorganization and exhaustive research to ascertain source materials from among hundreds of original and photocopied documents, clippings, personal notations, and private correspondence in Dr. Pride’s files, Dr. Wilson completed this compelling and inspiring study of the black press from its inception in 1827 to 1997.

This is a major and noteworthy contribution to scholarship on the African American press. As Washington Post columnist Dorothy Gilliam concludes in the foreword, “Pride and Wilson’s comprehensive history is a lasting tribute to the men and women within the black press of both the past and the present and to those who will make it what it will be in the future.

*   *   *   *   *

Bibliographic Checklist of African American Newspapers

By Barbara Henritze

This book contains a complete checklist of African American newspapers identified in all major bibliographic sources–newspaper directories, union lists, finding aids, African American bibliographies, yearbooks, and specifically African American newspaper sources. In short, it is a comprehensive checklist of every newspaper that has served African Americans since 1827—a total of 5,539 newspapers. For reference purposes the text is arranged in tabular format under the following headings: newspaper title, city and state of publication, frequency of publication, dates, and sources. Newspapers are listed by state and city, which are in alphabetical order, then, by city, in alphabetical order by title. The papers are again listed alphabetically in the index, this time in a single, comprehensive list which serves as the best fingertip reference to black newspapers in existence. This is a core book for any collection of African American reference materials.

*   *   *   *   *

Raising Her Voice

African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History

 By Rodger Streitmatter

Little research exists on African-American women journalists, even in studies of the black press. To address this gap, Streitmatter presents eleven biographies of journalists from the early nineteenth century to the present.—Journal of Women’s History

[Streitmatter] finds that their attraction to journalism cam from their desire to be advocates of racial reform, that they were courageous in the face of sexism and financial discrimination, and that they used education as their entry into journalism and subsequently received support from African-American male editors.—Journal of Women’s History

An historical chronology of eleven interesting and determined black female journalists.—Washington Times

Rodger Streitmatter is a journalist and cultural historian whose work explores how the media have helped to shape American culture. He is currently a professor in the School of Communication at American University and is the author of seven previous books.

*   *   *   *   *

The African American Press

With Special References to Four Newspapers, 1827-1965

By Charles A. Simmons

Of the 4,000 or so black-owned newspapers that Simmons informs us have existed in American history, he selects four well-known publications for detailed analysis. They are the Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, Oklahoma City Black Dispatch, and Jackson (Mississippi) Advocate. Following a summary of the black press in the abolition and Reconstruction eras, the author jumps into the four papers’ editorial philosophies in the 1910s and 1920s, the start of the great northward migration, instigated, some say, by the Defender. Throughout the history of black journalism, argues Simmons, the large question was what balance should be struck between militancy and accommodation, and what balance between sensationalism and straight news. During World War II, the uncompromising Courier became the top-circulating newspaper. Simmons concludes with the four papers’ reporting of the civil rights movement, in which the Advocate comes off poorly, having possibly been bribed into advocacy for the segregationist status quo. A pricey book, but one covering an important aspect of black history.



*   *   *   *   *

Forum for Protest

The Black Press during World War II

By Lee Finkle

Finkle views this era of the black press as one of transition. The old guard, which called on blacks to accept the status quo in hopes of a better tomorrow, was passing. A more militant generation, raised on the papers of the era, was coming to the fore. . . . In his estimation, the papers were vehicles to retard, not advance, the black cause. . . . Professor Finkle has written an interesting volume that discusses the reactions of the black press during the Second World War. His style lends itself to quick reading, and the book would prove useful to both graduate and undergraduate students of history.

Although Finkle’s tale is an intriguing one, there are some problems with the work. As reviewer Alan Osur points out, the book was written in the 1970s, and Professor Finkle might have been judging the war from the so-called New Left perspective. So, while the work of the black press might have seemed quite conservative to him, from the perspective of the FDR administration, their writings probably seemed quite radical indeed.



*   *   *   *   *

A Question of Sedition: The Federal Government’s

Investigation of the Black Press during World War II

By Patrick Washburn

A Question of Sedition tells the story of an event that almost happened, didn’t, and why it never occurred. That event was the attempt by the Roosevelt Administration to use its special wartime sedition powers to suppress publication of the major black newspapers during World War II. Historians have long believed that the massive press suppressions of 1917-1921 did not recur during World War II simply because of a relative absence of dissent. Many have also believed that Franklin Roosevelt, who generally enjoyed good relations with the press, would not have been a supporter of censorship. This book shows that in fact an intense battle raged within the highest levels of Roosevelt’s government over censorship of the black press. On the side of suppressing, or at least silencing, the black press was the powerful team of Franklin Roosevelt and J. Edgar Hoover; working virtually alone on the other side was Attorney General Francis Biddle. Drawing on interviews and thousands of pages of government documents, many obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and declassified for the first time, Washburn tells the full story of the conflict, setting the record straight on this important period in the country’s libertarian history.

*   *   *   *   *

What Orwell Didn’t Know

Propaganda and the New Face of American Politics

By Andras Szanto

Propaganda. Manipulation. Spin. Control. It has ever been thus—or has it? On the eve of the 60th anniversary of George Orwell’s classic essay on propaganda (

Politics and the English Language

), writers have been invited to explore what Orwell didn’t—or couldn’t—know. Their responses, framed in pithy, focused essays, range far and wide: from the effect of television and computing, to the vast expansion of knowledge about how our brains respond to symbolic messages, to the merger of journalism and entertainment, to lessons learned during and after a half-century of totalitarianism. Together, they paint a portrait of a political culture in which propaganda and mind control are alive and well (albeit in forms and places that would have surprised Orwell). The pieces in this anthology sound alarm bells about the manipulation and misinformation in today’s politics, and offer guideposts for a journalism attuned to Orwellian tendencies in the 21st century.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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