Saturday, February 19, 2011


Activist Newspapers

The first Black newspaper in the U.S. Freedom's Journal, laid the foundation for a long and distinguished line of pionerring Black newspapers.


These newspapers were dedicated to the same ideas the Freedom Journal championed. Educating and Informing the Black communities, supporting their goals of equality and justice, and making their achievements visible to the world.

Here's a look at several of them:


The New Orleans Tribune was the first Black daily newspaper. It was the offshot of L 'Union (THE UNION), was the first Black newspaper published in both French and English. It began in 1862, during the Civil War, and ceased publication in 1864. Dr. Louis Roudanez was a healthy Black doctor and vice president of New Orleans Freedom's Aid Association. He bought L' Union printing equipment and started The Tribune.

The newspaper fought for equal treatment for Black and White soldiers, Black children acceptance into the common schools and the vote for Black people.



John James Neimore established The California Eagle Owl in Los Angeles in 1870 to help African Americans who were moving into the west. Charlotta Spears Bass assumed control over the Owl after Neimore died in 1912, renaming it The California Eagle.


The Eagle fought racial discrimination and segrgation in Los Angeles and California. It published editorials opposing D.W. Griffith film, "Birth of a Nation", whiched featured derogatory portrayals of Black people.


In 1951, Bass sold the newspaper to Loren Miller, a former Eagle reporter.

In 1952, Bass became the first Black woman to run for national office as a Progressive Party Presidential candidate.

The Eagle ceased publication in 1964.


The Afro-American in Baltimore was founded by John Henry Murphy Sr. in 1892. He merged his church publication,The Sunday School Helper, with two other churches publications. The Ledger and the Afro-American.

The newspaper crusaded for racial equality in Maryland. It pushed Baltimore police department to hire black police officers, it fought to obtain equal pay for Maryland's Black school teachers and was instrumental in helping Black students get into schools, like the University of Maryland school and Maryland Art Institute.

It's "Clean Block" campaign aimed to reduce crime and improve the appearance of inner-city neighborhoods.



The Chicago Defender was founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott.

Who also became one of the self-made Black millionaires in America.


The Defender encouraged Black migration from the South. It also mimicked the sensationalist "yellow journalist" techiniques of publishers William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Publitzer attract readers and boost sales.

The Defender did not use the word "Black or Negro", it referred to Black people as "THE RACE".


Edwin Haeleston established The Pittsburgh Courier in 1907. Attorney Robert Lee Vann started out as the newspaper's legal counsel and eventuslly became editor-publisher.

The Courier fought for improvements in housing and education for African Americans. It sought more Black physicians in the Pittsburg area and pushed for a hospital that would treat Black people.

Vann influenced Black voters to shift their political alleigance away from Republican Party to the Democratic Party.

Four boys infront of the Pittsburg Courier.

The Pittsburgh Courier was an American newspaper published in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which was published from 1907 to 1965. Once the country's most widely circulated Black newspaper, the legacy and influence of the Pittsburgh Courier is unparalleled.

A pillar of the Black Press, it rose alongside the civil rights movement and was among its most forceful voices.

At its peak, the paper boasted a national circulation of almost 250,000 with over 400 employees in 14 cities. Widely read, the Pittsburgh Courier set the tone on major issues impacting the African-American community and people paid attention.

In the 1930s, the Courier urged Black voters to "turn Lincoln's picture to the wall" and vote Democrat, creating a political alliance that endures to this day.

Some famous contributors to the Courier were Joel Augustus Rogers, who worked as a journalist for the Courier in the 1920s, and Sam Milai, editorial cartoonist for the Courier for 33 years.

In 1965, the Courier went into bankruptcy and ceased publishing.

Marcus Garvey, W.E.B.Dubios, James Weldon Johnson, Elijah Muhammad and Zora Neale Hurston wrote for the Courier.

Weldon Smith, The Courier sports writer, used his column to denounce segregation in baseball major leagues. His efforts contributed to Jackie Robinson's signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.



This history is unlocked.....this is a time that people from African descent felt the need to make change and spoke out utilizing as many venues as possible.

The newspapers of today, that are in representation of the Black community need a snapshot of our history in journalism, to better serve the community and print stories that will better inform, educate, encourage as well as support our goals of equality.


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