In the United States today, many cities print newspapers in diverse languages for other racial and ethnic groups. Reading news stories written by journalists, reporters and columnists from your own background gives opportunity to view events through your own cultural lens.
National Newspapers Publishers Association is a trade association of 200 regional and local newspapers African-American-owned community newspapers in the United States. Founded 75 years ago, NNPA has promoted the voices of citizens in Black communities. BlackPressUSA.com is the public news website of the National Newspaper Publishers Association. The websites states, “The Black Press believes that America can best lead the world away from racial and national antagonisms when it accords to every person, regardless of race, color or creed, full human and legal rights. Hating no person, the Black press strives to help every person in the firm belief that all are hurt as long as anyone is held back.”
In her 2007 book, “Freedom’s Journal: The First African-American Newspaper,” Jacqueline Bacon provides an in-depth analysis. In 1827, Samuel Cornish and John Russwarm started the publication in New York. “To African-Americans, oppressed, silenced and long denied the opportunity to publish their views in most white newspapers, the appearance of Freedom’s Journal in 1827 must indeed have appeared like the outset of a storm,” declared Bacon.
“The Black Press: Soldiers Without Swords” (a film by Stanley Nelson) documents the history of many newspapers founded by and for African-Americans, beginning with Freedom’s Journal and proceeding through the contemporary era.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is an official federal holiday observed with community events to honor Martin Luther King Jr. on “MLK Day,” celebrated Monday, Jan. 21, 2019. The life of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights leader continues to inspire humans on the planet with his message of nonviolence and equal rights for all. Peruse Black newspapers to learn more.
President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month a national observance in 1976. It’s celebrated every February. Presidents have issued national decrees with each year’s theme since the 1970s. The theme for 2019 is “Black Migrations.” Read past and current Black newspapers. The African-American orator, reformer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born in February as well.
Why do Caucasian children, adolescents and adults need to be exposed to diverse newspapers? America is full of people and we need to learn about different races, nationalities, cultures, languages, customs and beliefs. Exploring newspapers that explore, recognize and celebrate human diversity and multiculturalism might teach us to embrace and embody fairness, equality and justice for all, as well as promote empathy for marginalized minorities. I encourage Caucasians to read Black newspapers.
“Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves,” wrote James Baldwin (“Letter from a Region in My Mind,” Reflections, Nov. 17, 1962 issue).
For a list of current Black newspapers, visit www.blacknews.com/.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator and therapist. She lives in Ohio.