Chronicling a century and a half of the African American experience, African American Newspapers, 1827-1998, features more than 270 newspapers from 35 states, including many rare and historically significant 19th century titles. These U.S. titles published by African Americans constitute valuable primary sources for researchers exploring such diverse disciplines as cultural, literary and social history; ethnic studies and more. Key titles include:
Afro-Hawaii News (Honolulu, HI)
In addition to starting the 50th state’s first African American newspaper, Afro-Hawaii News founder Howard “Stretch” Johnson spearheaded a campaign to end segregation in Major League Baseball, fought for a state holiday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and created the Afro-American Leadership Coalition.
• Includes 55 issues published between 1987 and 1991
Alaska Spotlight (Anchorage, AK)
Following World War II, development and population boomed in Alaska. To give the black community there a voice and an identity, publisher George Anderson created the Spotlight and continued to run it until his death.
• Includes 12 issues published between 1956 and 1968
The Appeal (St. Paul, MN)
One of the leading African American newspapers in the country by the end of the 19th century, the Appeal was reprinted in five states.
• Includes 1,086 issues published between 1903 and 1923
The Arkansas State Press (Little Rock, AR)
Published by civil-rights leader Daisy Bates, the State Press provided unequaled coverage of the 1957 desegregation crisis at Little Rock’s Central High School
• Includes 896 issues published between 1941 and 1959
The Broad Ax (Salt Lake City, UT & Chicago, IL)
Editor Julius Taylor, who founded this Democratic weekly at a time when most African Americans were affiliated with the Republican Party, earned many rivals through his active and outspoken editorials, which were likely to employ such epithets as calling a fellow editor a “pale-faced two-legged dung-hill rooster.”
• Includes 203 issues published between 1895 and 1899
The Cleveland Gazette (Cleveland, OH)
Nicknamed “The Old Reliable” for never missing a Saturday publication in 58 years, the Gazette’s causes mirrored those of managing editor Harry C. Smith. Over the years, Smith used his paper’s influence to argue against segregated schools, minstrel shows and the last of Ohio’s “Black Laws” and for college education and Republican policies. One of the most powerful voices against segregation, the Gazette was the country’s longest running African-American newspaper by World War I.
• Includes 2,588 issues published between 1883 and 1945
Freedom’s Journal (New York, NY)
As the first African-American newspaper published in the United States, the Journal provided regional, national and international information on current events; contained editorials declaiming slavery, lynching and other injustices; published biographies of prominent African Americans; and included birth, death and marriage notices as well as job listings in New York’s African American community. Despite its brief run, the Journal circulated in 11 states, the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe and Canada.
• Includes 103 issues published between 1827 and 1829
The Freeman (Indianapolis, IN)
Called “the Harper’s Weekly of the Black Press” the influential Freeman was the first illustrated African-American newspaper.
• Includes 1,458 issues published between 1888 and 1916
The Langston City Herald (Langston City, OK)
Herald founder E.P. McCabe also co-founded the all-black community of Langston, and used his widely-circulated newspaper to expand African American migration to the area. The paper promoted Langston as a refuge for African Americans fleeing persecution in the South and encouraged enterprising families to stake out homesteads on the fertile prairie.
• Includes 56 issues published between 1891 and 1893
The New York Age (New York, NY)
One of the most important African American newspapers in history, the Age features W.E.B. Du Bois’ first publication—a letter to editor T. Thomas Fortune, whose career intersected with that of Du Bois on numerous occasions.
• Includes 126 issues published between 1889 and 1892
The Richmond Planet (Richmond, VA)
Lawyer Edwin Archer Randolph founded the Richmond Planet in 1883, but within a year, the newspaper was in the red and on the verge of collapse. It was resurrected by John Mitchell, Jr. and a group of black teachers who had been fired from the Virginia Public School system. Mitchell, the son of former slaves, helped bring the Planet to the zenith of its popularity in 1895 when he aggressively covered the trial of three black women charged with the murder of a white woman. When the prosecution eventually dropped the charges, the Planet’s role in the outcome was widely acknowledged.
• Includes 7 issues published between 1885 and 1900
L'Union/Union (New Orleans, LA)
L'Union was a tri-weekly, bi-lingual French and English title published in New Orleans in the years immediately after the port city was liberated by Union troops. It provided an astonishing array of political and literary information aimed toward the city’s cultured black population.
• Includes 96 issues published between 1862 and 1864
The Washington Bee (Washington, DC)
The boldest of several D.C. titles during this period, the Bee’s motto was “Stings for our enemies, honey for our friends.” This widely influential paper was read by African Americans around the world.
• Includes 1,926 issues published between 1882 and 1922
Wisconsin Afro-American/Northwestern Recorder (Milwaukee, WI)
Although this pioneering black title in an overwhelmingly white state didn’t last for long, its mission to solidify the fledgling African American community and attract impoverished southern sharecroppers to the industrial opportunities of the north was carried on by future papers.
• Includes 11 issues published between 1892 and 1893