Academic journal article Journalism History

The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords

Academic journal article Journalism History

The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords

Article excerpt

"The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords." San Francisco, CA: California Newsreel Video, 1998, 1:26.

When the first black newspaper was printed in New York City in the late 1820s, four million blacks toiled under slavery, and those who lived outside slavery were dominated by an extremely hostile and repressive racist American society often led by the white press. It was not uncommon during the antebellum years for white newspapers to openly and viciously attack blacks with racial insults, while refusing to allow blacks to respond or express their views.

As depicted in this documentary, such was the environment on March 16, 1827, when Freedom 's Journal, the nation's first black newspaper, appeared in New York City. From there, the video is a chronology of leading black newspapers and their trailblazing editors and reporters up to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement.

Teachers in classes focusing on the minority press, race-and-media, and media-and-society will find this 86-minute video informative and useful in acquainting students with the origins, role, and development of the black press in America. The names and faces of those who led the black press are presented. Narrated by film star Joe Morton, the production stresses the origin of Freedom's Journal; photos of this little four-page tabloid are spiced with narrations on its role and purpose. As proclaimed by editors John B. Russwurm and Reverend Samuel E. Cornish, the newspaper was born because "We wish to plead our own cause. . . [as] too long have others spoken for us."

After the Freedom's Journal segment, the video describes how at least 40 other newspapers were published by blacks before the Civil War. Most of them folded before the war's end. Among the most stirring and influential of these newspapers was The North Star edited by Frederick Douglass. …

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