We Wish to Plead Our Own Cause
November 11, 2018 12:34 PM   Subscribe

The past and future of America’s black press. From its inception, the black press has been fighting. Fifty years after the American Revolution, while the country built its wealth and global prominence on the basis of violent chattel slavery, free black people living in northern coastal cities, particularly New York and Philadelphia, came to sense that their ongoing struggle for human rights and dignity would need a platform. Black churches and social societies aimed at self-improvement were not enough to improve the conditions of a people.

Newspapers of the time worked against them, by pushing negative stereotypes of both enslaved and free black Americans—as violent, uncivil, and unfit for basic rights afforded to other citizens. Journalists like Mordecai Manuel Noah, the editor of The New York Enquirer, a four-page tabloid, advocated for the transport of free black people out of the US to Liberia; in editorials, he cheered in anticipation of their untimely deaths on the journey.
posted by MovableBookLady (3 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
So many presses I’d never heard of in this article. I clicked thinking there’d be a tie-in to the news I recently heard that the North Star is getting revived, but this is a completely different (but fascinating) set of stories.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:55 PM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I did some research in 1920s and 1930s copies of Baltimore's Afro-American a few years ago. That was the height of the lynching era, of course, and it was striking how much more fully and frankly they described the torture and casual brutality white mobs inflicted on their victims. The white newspapers I studied gave far shorter and much more sanitised accounts. I wasn't naive about how cruel lynching had been but, even so, reading the Afro's reports was a real eye-opener.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:46 PM on November 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Louisiana Weekly is a wonderful publication that's been running since the 30s, and their environmental coverage is often excellent
posted by eustatic at 7:16 PM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

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