A History of the Black Press 

A History of the Black Press 


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



This book also takes a quick look—but only in two short chapters—at the history of

advertising in this press and the roles played by African-American magazines (which

is included in a chapter that also looks at radio and television). It is, without a doubt,

the best, most comprehensive history of the African American press yet published,

and just what the doctor ordered for college professors and their students.


Books about the Black Press

P.B. Young, Newspaperman /

Bibliographic Checklist of African American Newspapers

A History of the Black Press / Origins of the Black Press: New York 1827-1847 / The Early Black Press in America, 1827-1860 

Raising Her Voice: African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History

The Black Press: New Literary and Historical Essays

*   *   *   *   *

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

Howard University Press, 1997, 384 pp.


A Review by Harry Amana

For the first time in eight years, a comprehensive history of the African American press has been published, this time as a part of the Moorland Spingarn Research Center series at Howard University. This attractive, large-format paperback (8 ½ x 12), with two-inch left hand margins, is the product of a unique posthumous “collaboration” between renown scholar Armistead S. pride, who dies in 1991, leaving with the MSRC an unfinished manuscript of approximately 500 typewritten pages, and noted Howard University professor Clint C. Wilson II.

Pride’s work, complete through 1973, has been supplemented and updated by Wilson, who says in the preface that his work is about 20 percent of the completed volume. Its 284 pages of easy-to-read text include a modest number of footnotes, a sixteen-page index, no bibliography, and an additional fifty-one pages of photos and portraits from the MSRC and other collections.

Its five sections of twenty-two chapters chronicle in fascinating detail the history of the African-American press from its origins in 1827, through its antebellum and reconstruction-era periods, through its hey-day development in the first half of the twentieth century, into the civil rights period and the 1990s. It includes summary discussions of press developments in almost every state, as well as a short history of the 120-year quest by the African-American press to secure a viable, national news-service organization.

Notable among these overviews is an analysis of the role played by African-American newsmen in Louisiana in orchestrating Homer Plessy’s attempt to overturn the state’s segregation policies, and the resulting decision (Plessy v. Ferguson) that launched an era of legal discrimination in the United States.

There also are brief, but insightful accounts of the trade-journal influences, and of whites who helped, hindered, and wrote for the African-American press. One wonders, at times, from whence came such valuable and interesting formation. Much apparently came from Armistead pride’s intimate, personal knowledge of many of the players involved in this epochal history. And, indeed, with an apology to readers, Clint Wilson says in the preface that, in painstakingly working his way through hundreds of pride’s notes, clippings and private correspondence, he was able to cite only 85 percent of the source material.

This book also takes a quick look—but only in two short chapters—at the history of advertising in this press and the roles played by African-American magazines (which is included in a chapter that also looks at radio and television). It is, without a doubt, the best, most comprehensive history of the African American press yet published, and just what the doctor ordered for college professors and their students. But there are some shortcomings.

Most notable is the failure to integrate contemporary research into section of pride’s history. This would include, for example, the 1992 work of Bernell Tripp (Origins of the Black Press: New York 1827-1847), and, more important, the 1993 work of Frankie Hutton (The Early Black Press in America, 1827-1860). Their analyses have caused us to view the pre-emancipation African-American press as an instrument directed toward a self-conscious, sometimes elite, middle-class audience, rather than merely as an abolitionist, protest press. Some of the Pride-Wilson account adds to this perspective, but is incomplete without the inclusion of the new research.

Recent research on early women journalists’ roles also would have lent a richer texture to this work. Included in this, again, would be Hutton’s book, along with Rodger Streitmatter’s 1994 study (Raising Her Voice: African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History).

Similarly, the look at the longtime African-American press survivors, which only includes about a dozen lines on the Norfolk Journal and Guide, could have benefited from Henry Lewis Suggs’ 1988 study (

P.B. Young, Newspaperman:

African-American Women Journalists Who Changed History, 1920-1962).

Sometimes, too, the meshing of Wilson’s work with the original manuscript seems to be uneven and, at times, contradictory. A Chapter 5 account of the National Reformer, for example, says: “[It] sought a universal awakening to the principle of the brotherhood of man. It emphasized self-improvement, self-help, racial unity, and the rights of citizenship for the Negro.”

Chapter 21, however, implies that the magazine might not qualify as a legitimate example of an African-American publication, going on to note that “the Reformer centered on the need to generate a benevolent spirit among those who were neutral or proslavery.

A discrepancy exists, too, on the publication date of the Kerner Commission report, and there is an apparent omission of some footnotes in Chapter 10. Still, 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.

Harry Amana, Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Source: Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

*   *   *   *   *

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

Howard University Press, 1997, 384 pp.

Table of Content







Ch. 1

New York City – 1827


Ch. 2

“… To Plead Our Own Cause”


Ch. 3

Rights of All


Ch. 4

The Colored American


Ch. 5

The Roots Spread


Ch. 6

Other Antebellum Voices Spring Forth


Ch. 7

Moving West


Ch. 8

Emerging Press in Dixie


Ch. 9

Reconstruction, Politics, and the Black Press


Ch. 10

A Bee-Line for Washington


Ch. 11

Homer Plessy’s Contribution


Ch. 12

Fighting Jim Crow


Ch. 13

Black Press, Depression, and Two Wars


Ch. 14

Barnett Takes On the Competition


Ch. 15

A Sense of Kinship


Ch. 16

The National Newspaper Publishers Association


Ch. 17

An Array of Clubs and Associations


Ch. 18

All Victories Must Be Paid For


Ch. 19

A Mission Lost, or New Directions?


Ch. 20

The Search for Advertising


Ch. 21

Magazines, Radio, and Television


Ch. 22

Survival Debates and the Common Cause



*   *   *   *   *

The following description of the founding of the Black press is excerpted from A History of the Black Press, by Armistead S. Pride and Clint C. Wilson II

“. . . to plead our own cause. . .”

When the meeting of colored leaders broke up at the home of M. Boston Crummell, a momentous decision had been made. They would forthwith publish a weekly newspaper, the first ever to come solely from the hands of African Americans. It would be directed to as many of the country’s free persons of color


computed by the forthcoming census to be 300,000, but generously estimated by the founding editors at half a million—as could be reached.

A newspaper, the conferees reasoned, would serve to establish a dialogue among free men of color. In the drive for racial and national unity of the Negro, the newspaper would help to bring free men together in convention at a propitious time (three years away yet) to discuss their needs and plan their course. Moreover, the newspaper would give a sizeable boost to the effort to enlighten and elevate the free people of color.

It would, thus, be strictly a Negro newspaper. It would be the Negro speaking; it would be directed to the Negro’s problems, and unlike abolitionist newspapers run by whites with Black assistance, it would be Negro-owned and Negro-controlled. That meant much to the men close to the struggle in l827. Moreover, there was urgent need for a mouthpiece in replying to mounting attacks on the colored population of seaboard cities. The newspaper would be called Freedom’s Journal. It would be published in New York City, scene of this historic meeting.—Clint C. Wilson II, Ph.D.,

Howard U Archives


*   *   *   *   *

Armistead  Pride (see photo above left)

Pride headed the journalism program at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., from 1944 to 1976. At the time of his death in 1991, he was considered the foremost scholar on the black press. A graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Chicago, Pride earned a master’s and doctorate at Medill with his 1950 dissertation “A Register and History of Negro Newspapers in the United States: 1927-50.” His professional experience included work with the Boston Guardian, St. Louis Argus, Louisville Defender, Lamar (Colo.) Daily News and the Associated Press.—


*   *   *   *   *

Armistead Pride Headed College Journalism School—7 April 1991—Armistead S. Pride, 83, who headed the journalism department at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., for 33 years, died Friday in his Northwest Side home. Mr. Pride was a student of the history of the African American press in the U.S. He compiled “The Black Press: A Bibliography,“ which was published in 1968 by the Association for Education in Journalism. He also directed a yearlong project of locating and microfilming black newspapers of the 19th Century for the American Council of Learned Societies.

He was head of the journalism department at Lincoln from 1943 until 1976. After his retirement, Northwestern University awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters, and the Capital Press Club of Washington gave him its distinguished service plaque. Born in Washington, Mr. Pride received his bachelor`s degree from the University of Michigan and his doctorate from Northwestern. He taught English at Tennessee State University. He also was city editor of the Daily News in Lamar, Colo., and an area correspondent for the Denver bureau of the Associated Press.

He was formerly vice president and president of the American Society of Journalism School Administrators. Mr. Pride is survived by his wife, Marie; a daughter, Lorene Loiacano; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Mary`s Episcopal Church, 306 S. Prospect Ave., Park Ridge.—


*   *   *   *   *

Clint C. Wilson II, Ed. D. is Professor of Journalism in the Howard University School of Communications and Graduate Professor in its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He is a recipient of the prestigious Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri and he has lectured at academic symposia at several colleges and universities in the United States and abroad at Oxford University. Wilson’s scholarly work on the relationship between people of color and mainstream general circulation media has been published in such periodicals as Journalism Educator, Columbia Journalism Review, Quill and Change. His work has been cited in textbooks and trade journals including Editor & Publisher and Advertising Age, among others. Dr. Wilson’s professional journalism career includes work for various news media organizations including the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, St. Petersburg Times, USA and the Los Angeles Sentinel.

 Behind The Classroom Professor: Clint C Wilson II

*   *   *   *   *’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

   *   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

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.

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

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)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *







posted 7 June 2012




Home  Alternative Media & the Black Press

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.