This week marks the 196th Anniversary of the Black Press, a significant milestone in the history of African American journalism. The Black Press has been an essential part of the struggle for civil rights and social justice in America, providing a platform for African American voices to be heard and for stories of Black achievement and resilience to be shared.
Today, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) is hosting a luncheon celebrating Black Press Week in Washington, D.C. “The State of the Black Press,” event will broadcast live from the National Press Club Ballroom 12:30-2:00 p.m. ET. Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., NNPA President and CEO, will give a keynote address on the state of the Black Press. In addition, Dr. Benjamin Talton, director of Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center’s Black Press Archive Digitization Project, will also present.
The history of the Black Press dates back to the early 19th century when the first black-owned newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, was established in 1827 by Rev. John Wilk, John Russwurm and Samuel Cornish. The newspaper was created to provide a voice for African Americans who were excluded from the mainstream media at the time. The Black Press grew rapidly, with more newspapers being established in the years that followed, including The North Star, The Chicago Defender, and The Pittsburgh Courier.
During the civil rights movement, the Black Press played a critical role in providing coverage of events that were ignored or distorted by the mainstream media. For example, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955 was covered extensively by the Black Press, helping to raise awareness of the struggle for civil rights and inspire others to join the movement.
Today, the Black Press continues to be an important source of news and information for African Americans. While mainstream media outlets have made some progress in terms of diversity and representation, the Black Press remains a crucial space for Black voices to be heard and for stories of black excellence and resilience to be shared.