Growing up in Philadelphia, I remember my father always stopping at the corner store for a copy of the Philadelphia Tribune, our local black newspaper. It was my go-to source for school papers and other projects. You could always find it on the coffee table of our home and at the homes of many of our neighbors.
Today, the advent of social media, phone cameras and 21st-century technology are often credited for the exposure of police shootings of unarmed black men and other social injustices, especially those caught on tape. But black newspapers deserve a lot of credit for historically leading the way for social justice in America. Their role often goes unheralded.
Black newspapers have a long history. It was in 1827 — still during slavery — that Samuel Cornish and John Brown Russwurm founded Freedom’s Journal, America’s first black newspaper. Its famous first editorial stated: “We wish to plead our own cause. For too long have others spoken for us.” (AARP Blog)