Before 1827, blacks didn't exist in the newspapers, unless they committed a crime. African American weddings, births, deaths, and accomplishments were not to be found in a newspaper anywhere in the United States. But the year 1827 saw big changes. New York finally abolished slavery, and two young black men, John Brown Russwurm and Samuel E. Cornish, founded Freedom's Journal. It was the first African American owned and operated newspaper in the country.
For most of the black community, reading came only after freedom, since it had been forbidden under slavery. To read black voices for the first time was powerful. On the front page of the new paper the editors wrote: "We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us." Inside were stories about slavery, lynchings, and social justice. The paper also covered international news of special interest to the community, such as events in Haiti and Sierra Leone. In addition, the paper featured biographies of black men and women, schools, jobs, and housing opportunities. It also listed weddings, births, and deaths.
For two years Freedom's Journal served a community of 300,000 African Americans in the North. It was sent to 11 states and the District of Columbia, as well as to Haiti, Europe, and Canada. It was followed by no less than 24 other black newspapers in the years before the Civil War.
This entry contributed by Curriculum Concepts International