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African American Newspaper
Freedom's Journal, considered the first African-American newspaper published within the United States
As African Americans moved to urban centers around the country, virtually every large city with a significant African-American population soon had newspapers directed towards African Americans. These newspapers gained audiences outside African-American circles. In the 21st century, papers (like newspapers of all sorts) have shut down, merged, or shrunk in response to the dominance of the Internet in terms of providing free news and information, and providing cheap advertising.
116th Anniversary of the Negro Press, by artist Charles Henry Alston, 1907-1977
Most of the early African-American publications, such as Freedom's Journal, were published in the North and then distributed, often covertly, to African Americans throughout the country. By the 20th century, daily papers appeared in Norfolk, Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C..
Some notable black newspapers of the 19th century were Freedom's Journal (1827-29), Philip Alexander Bell's Colored American (1837-41), the North Star (1847-60), the National Era, The Frederick Douglass Paper (1851-63), the Douglass Monthly (1859-63), and the Christian Recorder (1861-1902)
In the 1860s, the newspapers the Elevator and the Pacific Appeal emerged in California as a result of black participation in the Gold Rush. 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.
The national Afro-American Press Association formed in 1890 in Indianapolis.
Poster from the U.S. Office of War Information, 1943
The national, Chicago-based Associated Negro Press (1919-1964) was a news agency "with correspondents and stringers in all major centers of black population."
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, 1970s, and 1980s went out of business because they could not attract enough advertising. They were also victims of their own substantial efforts to eradicate racism and promote civil rights. As of 2002[update], about 200 Black newspapers remained. With the decline of print media and proliferation of internet access, more black news websites emerged, most notably Black Voice News, The Grio, The Root, and Black Voices.