Every culture has a history; a chronicle of their hardships and triumphs, a tabulation of the successful endeavors and a reminder of what happened to those prior. The African American race is no different yet their history had to find its own avenue to be recorded hence the emergence of the Black Press.
The month of March is Black Press Month and this year marks 186 years. The community, the ethnicity and the ties that bind African Americans to the rest of America, keeps the Black Press as an outlet to provide news and document the history, progression and struggle of the black man, woman and child in America.
History of the Black Press
In 1827, Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwarm started the first African-American periodical, The Freedom’s Journal. This periodical was started before the Civil War and ignited a spark in other Blacks to create their own papers as well. These papers served as a way to express abolitionism, liberation and rights for slaves and free Blacks, racial pride and a way to let other Blacks know what was going on within their community. The Freedom’s Journal ended circulation in 1830 but not before another circulation started which was Frederick Douglass’s, North Star.
As emancipation came for the African slaves and those free men and women became to inhabit and formulate urban areas, a circulation of Black newspapers began to influx and soon the Black Press was alive.
The Chicago Defender, Detroit Tribune, New York Amsterdam News and the Pittsburgh Courier became the voice and face of the Black community in America. In a time where the Black voice was not seen of importance to many besides Blacks, the Black Press allowed Blacks the avenue to get news and give news through their viewpoint.
Issues such as how Blacks were treated, discriminatory practices in hiring, housing and in retail, the Klu Klux Klan, police brutality, the Civil Rights Movement and also the good life Blacks were having has they built a life and culture after slavery in a harsh world around them.
Black Press Today
The African- American community still desires to have their own voice heard and there are hundreds of Black newspapers throughout the country. Although mainstream media has taken prevalence over community papers the presence and need for the Black Press is still felt.
There are Black papers still in business that date back over a hudred years like the Philadephia Tribune that started in 1884 or the Charolette Post that started in 1878, that are still going strong and a part of the Black Press. Regardless of the state of newspapers in America, over 200 newspapers service the Black community throughout the country.
Black Press in Houston
The Houston Sun, African-American News and Issues, Houston Defender, Houston Forward Times ,Houston Style ,Informer & Texas Freeman are all a African American newspapers that serve the Black community throughout the city of Houston. As a part of the Black Press each one of these papers have showcased the culture of African Americans in Houston, told the story that may not ever be told by the city paper, celebrates the struggle and identity that makes the Black community stand a part.
These papers have launched the careers of many journalist, gave a platform for numerous politicians and kept a community abreast of the issues surrounding them.
The Informer and Texas Freeman is said to be the oldest paper west of the Mississippi as it started in 1893, Houston Forward Times celebrates 53 years this year and The Houston Sun turns 30 years old in December. The business of the press is never a paling task and the Black Press’s job isn’t slowing down through the present day issues. If not now the job is evermore pressing.
As a rich legacy of good, bad, strong and enduring times, the history of the Black race hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. The Black Press has told the stories that will provide a record for all who wish to know about the issues of the world with an African American perspective.