Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On T. Thomas Fortune and Black Newspapers

On T. Thomas Fortune and Black Newspapers: As co-founder and editor of one of the first African-American newspapers since the Antebellum Era, Timothy Thomas Fortune became an influential figure in New York City's post-Civil War black community. The name of Fortune's newspaper was the New York Age, and it published (both daily and weekly) at various times throughout its existence from 1887 to 1953. The primary purpose of black newspapers like the New York Age was to inform African Americans about where to live, shop, and attend church/school in cities. This idea was especially true for former slaves from the rural South, who may have migrated to the urban North in search of better jobs, better schools, and better housing. Indeed, many of these former slaves from the rural South, of which Fortune was one (born a slave in Florida in 1856), were illiterate. Thus, maps and pictures became important sources of information within early black newspapers. But like other African-American newspapers, Fortune produced his with a white audience in mind. Causes such as anti-lynching and anti-segregation were frequently touted in editorials. And attempting to generate cross-racial support for such causes was actually what helped give birth to civil rights organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the early twentieth century.

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