NEWSPAPERS OWNED BY AFRICAN AMERICANS 1807-1950
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NEWS ARTICLE POSTED 4/17/2019
Article appeared in the New National Era
September 8, 1870
LETTERS FROM THE PEOPLE.
Letter from Maryland.
Fairfikm), Md , Sept. 5, 1870.
To the Editor of the New National Era :
As a stranger and an advocate in the cause
of education, also a reader of your valuable
journal, I send you a synopsis of a series of
meeting* held in St. Mary’s county, Maryland,
from the 6th to the 14th inst., inclusive. The
meeting at St. Nicholas on the 6th, celebrating
the ratification of the fifteenth amendment, was
one long to be remembered. You cannot imagine
what enthusiasm was expressed by the
lately enfranchised. There were present about
four hundred people, from the gray haired
grand sire to the infant in thear in of its mother,
all there to celebrate the great boon of liberty
and equal rights the fifteenth amendment.
The speaker’s stand and the school building
Were festooned with evergreens and flags. The
same enthusiasm prevailed at “Tall Pine,” near
Point Lookout, on the next day. when there
was another meeting in commemoration of the j
same. In fact all the meetings throughout the
county were a counterpart of the first. Joy
and gladness were depicted on the countenances
of all present.
The speakers were Messrs.
Wm. Foster, James IJ Brooks, G. B. H.
Taylor, and John Cajay,, Mr. Cajay being orator
of the day.
The meeting at St. Nicholas was called to
order bv Mr. Foster, school teacher at that
place, when, by acclamation, Mr. John Ennels j
was elected chairman.
Mr. Ennels arose,
thanked the audience very kindly for the honor
conferred on him, and stated the object of the ‘
meeting He then introduced Mr. John Ca Joy
j v, of Leonard town, who portrayed in vivid
pictures the sufferings of the black man inthe )
past and the benefits he would receive in the
future. He eulogized the Administration and
the leading colored men of the nation in their
manly efforts to bring about the result they
He closed his remarks by ;
exhorting them to be industrious, religious, and
honest, to stand by the administration and the
Republican party, as they were the only friends
to the black men. He was often interrupted
by immense applause. After some remarks by
Messrs. Brooks and Foster upon the political
condition of the couutry, the meeting adjourned
amid deafening applause and nine rousing cheers
for the fifteenih amendment.
The meetings at the other places were nearly ;
the same, with very little variation.
On Wednesday, the 8th, Mr. Cajay lectured
‘ to the people on the domestic
duties of the colored people as a class,
religiously, educationally, and politically.
George F. Payne.
The Statesman and Denver Star
Founded in 1888 and published in Denver, the Statesman was a weekly paper that served the African American community in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and New Mexico. The paper acted as a channel through which its readers could “voice their opinions, assert their rights, and demand their due recognition.” The newspaper reported local, church, and society news and events, as well as national stories that would be of particular interest to African Americans residing in the Mountain West. The publication also featured op-eds about interracial marriage, Jim Crow Laws, and segregation. When the controversial movie Birth of Nation was released in 1915, the paper, by then known as the Denver Star, ran opinion pieces condemning the film, noting in one such piece that its evil “lies in the fact that the play is both a denial of the power of development within the free Negro and an exaltation of race war.” The paper repeatedly called upon its readership to boycott Birth of a Nation and printed scathing opinion pieces such as a speech delivered by William Lewis, the first African American Assistant Attorney General, in which he referred to the reels of the film as “three miles of filth.”
The Advance was founded in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1899 and was edited and owned by P. H. Murray. The Advance noted that it was “Republican in politics, Christian in religion, and devoted to the moral and industrial advancement of the Negro.” It was published weekly on Saturday.
In the September 22, 1900 issue, the Advance endorsed William McKinley, the Republican candidate for president, and Theodore Roosevelt as vice-president. In addition, the Advance endorsed Republican John Hunn for governor of Delaware and other Republican candidates for offices at the national, state, county, and local levels. In some cases, the Advance provided more extensive explanations for their endorsements such as for Winfield S. Quigley for Clerk of the Peace. The newspaper noted that “he stood up for his convictions, stood up for the colored man and his protection in the enjoyment of his citizenship, so unfalteringly that his neighbors noted him as ‘the black Republican.'”
While the goal of the Advance was to improve conditions for African-Americans, the newspaper often focused on issues of national interest, including articles such as “Why American Prospers: Industry Stimulated by Gold Standard.” The Advance also printed an article suggesting that William Jennings Bryan, McKinley’s Democratic challenger who opposed annexation of the Philippines at the end of the Spanish-American War, was actually encouraging Filipinos to revolt against the United States.
The Advance also included a column entitled, “Race Gleanings” with a subheading “Doings and Sayings of the Race.” The editor used this column to provide concrete examples of inequalities between African Americans and whites. For instance, the amount of money spent on education in public schools in the South was five times higher for whites than it was for African American children. The Advance also included news of local churches and reprinted a Sunday sermon.
It is unclear when the Advance ceased publication, although it was most likely sometime in 1901.
The Bee and Washington Bee (Washington, DC)
The first issue of the Bee was printed on June 3, 1882. William C. Chase, a lawyer, local politician, businessman, and native Washingtonian took over as the paper’s principal editor by the end of the first year of publication, and his superb editorial skills eventually turned the Bee into one of the most influential African American newspapers in the country. The Bee represented the Republican attitudes of its editor, although Chase did not hesitate to criticize Republican Party leaders when he thought they were on the wrong side of an issue. The initial motto of the paper was “Sting for Our Enemies—Honey for Our Friends.” Civil rights for America’s blacks was a primary concern. Although figures are not available for each year of publication, circulation of the Bee varied from a low of 1,250 in 1892 to a high of 9,700 in 1922.
The Washington Bee focused much of its attention on the activities of the city’s African Americans, and its society page paid special attention to events at local black churches. The paper also covered national issues; by the turn of the 20th century it was publishing articles about events across the country by its own correspondents as well as from wire services. Like most publications of the day, there was also an extensive array of advertising, much from white-owned businesses. The remaining space included the typical filler content purchased from various sources.
Through his editorials, Chase conveyed his passionate views on a variety of issues. The Bee’s editorials were noted for their criticism of Booker T. Washington and his apparently conservative positions on black racial progress. The attacks on Washington intensified in 1904 when the noted black educator provided financial assistance to the rival Colored American. The criticisms ended abruptly, however, when Chase’s paper began experiencing its own financial difficulties, and Washington, apparently, contributed financial support to the Bee. Chase remained as editor until his death in 1921. Unfortunately, the paper’s financial troubles continued unabated. The Washington Bee, whose presses had operated at 1109 I Street in the city’s northwest quadrant, folded the year after its long-time editor died.
The Colored American began publishing in 1893 under the ownership of Edward Elder Cooper, who had distinguished himself as the founder of the Indianapolis Freeman, the first illustrated African American newspaper. The Colored American operated its presses at 459 C Street in Washington’s northwest quadrant. The weekly publication promoted itself as a national Negro newspaper and it carried lengthy feature stories on the achievements of African Americans across the country. Publisher Cooper relied on contributions from such prominent black journalists such as John E. Bruce and Richard W. Thompson to sustain the national scope of his paper, which readers could obtain for a $2.00 annual subscription.
The Colored American included a regular column called “City Paragraphs” that highlighted events in the nation’s capital and routinely featured articles on religion, politics, education, military affairs, and black fraternal organizations. The paper distinguished itself by its use of original reporting rather than relying on boiler-plate, filler material taken from other publications. Like other papers, however, it included advertising, much of it geared to black consumers.
The paper ran editorials and political cartoons that championed improved social conditions in the black community and expanded rights for African Americans. Although it held a reputation for political independence, the Colored American was actually staunchly Republican. Cooper allied himself and his paper with Booker T. Washington, and the publisher looked to the famous black educator for financial assistance. Another financial backer was lecturer and activist Mary Church Terrell, a noted African American civil rights advocate who wrote a column for the paper titled “The Women’s World,” under the pseudonym Euphemia Kirk.
Unfortunately for the Colored American, Cooper proved to be a poor businessman and, because of some unorthodox business practices and extensive debts to creditors, financial problems plagued the paper. It ceased publication in November 1904.
Provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC
The National Forum (Washington, DC), 1910-19??
The first issue of the National Forum was likely released on April 30, 1910 and the newspaper ran through at least November 12 of that year. The four-page African-American weekly covered such local events as Howard University graduations and Baptist church activities, but its pages also included national news, sports, home maintenance, women’s news, science, editorial cartoons, and reprinted stories from national newspapers. Its primary focus was on how the news affected the city’s black community. A unique feature was its coverage of Elks Club meetings and activities. Business manager John H. Wills contributed the community-centered “Vanity Fair” column that usually appeared on the front page of each issue. The publisher and editor was Ralph W. White, who went on to publish another African-American newspaper, the McDowell Times of Keystone, West Virginia. Originally located at 609 F St., NW, the newspaper’s offices moved in August to 1022 U Street, N.W. to be closer to the African-American community it served. No extant first issue of the National Forum exists.
Provided by: Library of Congress, Washington, DC