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Chapter Twenty. The Black Press

Shirlet E. Thompson

Subject Race and Ethnicity Studies » African American Studies

Key-Topics Black literature, newspapers and periodicals

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230663.2004.00022.x


In 1944, the “Dean of the Negro Press” P. Bernard Young wrote a set of guidelines for the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). In this “credo for the Negro Press,” Young, editor of the Journal and Guide of Norfolk, Virginia, wrote in the voice of the committed black journalist: “I Shall be a crusader and an advocate, a mirror and a record, a herald and a spotlight, and I Shall not falter. So help me God.” The black press was to be an agent of protest, pushing America to realize its highest moral principles. It was to be double-voiced, speaking to and for America's black population. Written amidst a delicate but strident wartime campaign of black journalists for racial justice in America, Young's statement reaffirmed the range of functions claimed by African American print journalism since its inception over a hundred years earlier. Furthermore, it described the terms upon which historians would continue to consider the black press. For historians, the press has provided evidence of black protest, a glimpse into black life, and a record of the African American quest for freedom and success. After briefly tracing the contours of the history of the African American press, this article will discuss the evolution of black press scholarship, detailing the impact of other disciplines on black press historiography and the connections between academic inquiry and its political ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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