Unmasking the Divide Between Black and White Journalists in the Media (2000)


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Some notable black newspapers of the 19th century were Freedom's Journal (1827-29), the Colored American (1837–41), the North Star (1847-1860), the National Era, The Frederick Douglass Paper (1851–63), the Douglass Monthly (1859–63), and the Christian Recorder (1861-1902)[4] In the 1860s, the newspapers the Elevator and the Pacific Appeal emerged in California as a result of black participation in the Gold Rush. [5] In the late 19th century, the main reason that newspapers were created was to uplift the black community. Many black people sought to assimilate into larger society and Northern blacks felt that it was their duty to educate Southern blacks on the mores of Victorian society. The African-American newspaper titled "The American Freedman" was a New York-based paper that served as an outlet to inspire African-Americans to use the Reconstruction period as a time for social and political advancement. This newspaper did so by publishing articles that reference African-American mobilization during the Reconstruction period that had not only local support, but had gained support from the global community as well. Many African-American newspapers struggled to keep their circulation going due to the low rate of literacy among African Americans. Many freed African-Americans had low incomes and could not afford to purchase subscriptions but shared the publications with one another.

African-American newspapers flourished in the major cities, with publishers playing a major role in politics and business affairs. Representative leaders included Robert Sengstacke Abbott ( 1870-1940), publisher of the Chicago Defender; John Mitchell, Jr. (1863 – 1929), editor of the Richmond Planet and president of the National Afro-American Press Association; Anthony Overton (1865 – 1946), publisher of the Chicago Bee, and Robert Lee Vann (1879 – 1940), the publisher and editor of the Pittsburgh Courier.[7]

There were many specialized black publications, such as those of Marcus Garvey and John H. Johnson. These men broke a wall that let black people into society. The Roanoke Tribune was founded in 1939 by Fleming Alexander, and recently celebrated its 75th anniversary. The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder is Minnesota's oldest Black newspaper and the United States oldest ongoing minority publication, second only to The Jewish World.

Many Black newspapers that began publishing in the 1960s, '70s, and '80s went out of business because they could not attract enough advertising and economic decline. They were also victims of their own substantial efforts to eradicate racism and promote civil rights. As of 2002, 200 Black newspapers remained. As of 2010, there has been a resurgence of online African-American news organizations, most notably Black Voice News, The Grio, and Black Voices. With the decline of print media and proliferation of internet access, more and more black news websites are popping up every day.

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