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First African-American newspaper

Posted by: | September 16, 2009 | No Comment |

“We wish to plead our own cause” was the statement that began Freedom’s Journal, the first African-American newspaper which began in 1827.  The paper was edited by Samuel Cornish and John B. Russwurm who was the first African-American to graduate from college in the United States.  Not only was this pioneer paper circulated in 11 states, it also spread to the District of Columbia, Haiti, Europe and Canada.

David Walker served as a subscription agent to the paper, writing of rebellion in four separate articles in 1829.  One such article included a quote stating “It is no more harm for you to kill the man who is trying to kill you than it is for you to take a drink of water.”

By publishing articles such as Walker’s, the publication served not only as a voice to the African-American public but as a platform for those involved with the abolitionist movement.

Freedom’s Journal featured local, international and national news on current events as well as editorials involving slavery and lynching.  Based out of New York, news of marriages, births and deaths in that African-American community were announced.  Also, biographies of important African-Americans such as Paul Cuffee and Phillis Wheatley were published.

The journal ended in March 1829 after Russwurm became the sole editor.  Many of the readers did not agree with the paper’s support of colonization and readership declined.  Though its term was short, Freedom’s Journal spurred the creation of several other African-American newspapers.  By the time the Civil War began there were over 40 African-American owned and operated newspapers throughout the United States.

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