Subversive Historian – 03/16/09

Freedom’s Journal

Back in the day on March 16th, 1827 the first black owned and operated newspaper in the United States was established. Edited by Samuel E. Cornish and John B. Russwurm, “Freedom’s Journal,” was centered in New York, but grew to be distributed in eleven states as well as numerous other countries including Haiti and Canada. The newspaper, which was a four-page, four-column weekly, featured local, national and international news in addition to editorials and biographies of prominent blacks. The voice “Freedom’s Journal” provided the antebellum black community was significant as it published denunciations of slavery and lynching while openly articulating the need for total black suffrage. Abolitionist activist Theodore Wright likened the publication and its self determination in the press to a “clap of thunder.” Indeed, after its two-year existence, Freedom’s Journal would go on to inspire more than forty black publications before the onset of the Civil War.

The appeal and need for outlets such as “Freedom’s Journal” was simply yet proudly declared on its own front page that read, “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

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