Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists

By Ratzlaff, Aleen | Journalism History, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists


Ratzlaff, Aleen, Journalism History


Broussard, Jinx Coleman. Giving Voice to the Voiceless: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists. New York: Routledge, 2004. 215 pp. $75.

The first chapter of Giving Voice to the Voiceless provides a fitting backdrop for Jinx Broussard's examination of four black women and their journalistic contributions to media history from the 189Os to the 1930s. The introductory chapter summarizes much of the compensatory works about early black women journalists published since Roland E. Wolseley's black press history, written in the early 197Os, when a mere three pages depicted their efforts.

Based on her dissertation, Broussard's book devotes individual chapters to Ida WellsBarnett, Mary Church Terrell, Alice DunbarNelson, and Amy Jaques Garvey, highlighting biographical information, identifying publications for which they wrote, and examining themes found in their writings. The structure of these chapters readily allows for comparisons among the four women. In the final chapter, she synthesizes her findings, noting commonalities of activism, independence, and influence among the journalists as well as their differing tones and approaches to issues.

References to anti-lynching activist WellsBarnctt, one of the few women in Wolseley's book, arc often found in historical accounts about the black press. Mildred Thompson, Linda O. McMurry, and Rodger Streitmatter are among those who have completed expanded works about her life and writings. Although adding little to what these and other scholars have published about the anti-lynching activist, Broussard fittingly underscores the journalistic standard set for Wells-Barnett's contemporaries and those who followed.

Like Wells-Barnett, Terrell and DunbarNelson had long careers in which the press served as a viable means to convey information and instill activism. …

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