Origins of Freedomways
J. H. O'DELL An editor of Freedomways
Freedomways magazine was born in a time of turmoil and change. Its founders were committed to the single purpose of assisting the mass assault on institutional racism and colonialism. The ideas that it popularized, the analysis that it contributed at various stages, and the voice it provided activists on the front lines were all directed to that end. The two decades preceding the founding of Freedomways in 1961 prepared the way for the popular uprising against racist practices to come. Those years of practical experience in activism also bore the seeds of the idea for such a journal.
Through most of the 1940s, especially when President Franklin Roosevelt was still alive, optimism about improvement in "race relations" ran pretty high. The Great Depression was becoming a memory. Millions of servicemen and -women were coming home from the war with plans to finish their education, thanks to the recently passed GI Bill of Rights, and get on with a peaceful life. The Black press kept our national community informed about the new United Nations, and we gathered hope from the fact that Dr. Du Bois was attached to the U.S. delegation meeting in San Francisco to establish the world body.