The Black Press Digital Exhibits

This collection consists of  a set of exhibits that revolve around conceptualizations of the Black Press. According to historian Kim Gallon, the Black Press is “an umbrella term that includes a diverse set of publications including  religious and secular magazines and newspapers published by Black people in the United States from 1827 to the present” (Gallon 2021). These publications sought to depict Black American cultural expressions and experiences from the perspectives of Black people. They not only played a huge role in contributing to the politics of racial uplift, but also to resistance against systems of oppression (Gallon).  The development and rise of the Black Press in the United States is particularly noteworthy given that between 1740 and 1834, anti-literacy laws in several states made it illegal for enslaved and free people of color to read or write. 

Black press, publications, journals, and  newspapers were circulated widely. For example, Freedom’s Journal was the first Black newspaper created in the United States in New York in 1827 and it had agents throughout the country, like David Walker in Boston, who were responsible for augmenting its circulation. It sought to highlight and advocate for the campaign to end slavery in the South and fight racial discrimination in the North” (Partin). The Colored American Magazine, founded in 1900,  depicted “the cultural, historical, and literary interest of the Black community today” (“Colored American”). The magazine was published by the Colored Cooperative Publishing Company, one of the first Black-owned commercial book publishers. Other early Black-owned publishing houses included: AME Book Concern (Philadelphia, PA 1817),  the American Negro Academy (Washington, DC 1897) and Orion Publishing Company (Nashville TN 1901)–which was owned by author, Sutton Griggs” (“Putting them on the Map”). The exhibits in this collection engage with how the Black Press sought to embody Black aliveness and consequently, served as a means of community, communication, and resistance. 

 

Explores the significance of slave narratives in the abolitionist movement of the 19th century. It compares the different rhetorical approaches of Chloe Russell and David Walker regarding domesticity and marriage. These narratives reflect different approaches to empowerment and resistance against white oppression.

The Afric-American Female Intelligence Society members worked together to promote literacy in the streets of Boston and in addition to being a pillar of the society, this organization of Black women in Boston devoted itself to the preservation and cultivation of its community.

The Colored American Magazine was one of the earliest magazines in the United States that was dedicated to African-American culture, literature, and social issues. It covered a wide range of topics, including literature, poetry, art, music, history, politics, and civil rights.