With the passage of time, this manuscript collection has become one of the nation's most valuable resources for understanding a significant segment of American life that has been neglected. The first donors in this aspect of the program represented a distinguished cross-section of persons who have made outstanding contributions to black journalism. These donors included Mr. P.L. Prattis, former Executive Editor of the Pittsburgh Courier; Miss Ethel L. Payne, former Associate Editor of the Chicago Defender; Dr. Metz T.P. Lochard, former Associate Editor and Chief Editorial Writer of the Chicago Defender; Mr. George B. Murphy, Jr., National Representative of the Afro-American Newspapers; and Mrs. Alice A. Dunnigan, former Washington Bureau Chief of the Associated Negro Press. The Research Center also received as a gift an oral history collection, The Documentary Series on the Negro press from Dr. Lou Lu Tour of New York.

     This aspect of the MSRC's documentation project today also includes papers and other materials documenting the lives and careers of cartoonist/illustrator Clint Wilson, Sr.; educator Armistead Pride; columnists Kelly Miller, Benjamin Mays and Alfred (Charlie Cherokee) Smith; broadcaster Tomlinson Todd; media relations facilitators Lawrence Hill, Otto McClarrin and Dolphin Thompson; and the records of the Capital Press Club.

     In addition, the MSRC's holdings include subscriptions to some 400 newspapers, of which 300 are African American, and 18,900 reels of microfilm. Since the inception of the Archives, the MSRC's Photoduplication Department has microfilmed 5 million frames on 7500 master reels and in addition another 3.7 million frames on 5700 master reels since the Black Press sesquicentennial celebration in 1977.

     Unfortunately, at the onset, other aspects of the documentation program, were not as successful. Initially, only publisher Carlton Goodlett, W.O. Walker and John H. Murphy deposited their personal papers or other materials documenting the activities of their respective newspapers.

     However, deposits increased, and the Black press in American remains an important voice - an Africa centric voice - for our people. The founders of Freedom's Journal asserted the need to "plead our own cause," a need which remains as essential today as it was at any other time in our history. And if the history of a people who established the foundations of civilization can be forgotten or intentionally obscured and obliterated, must I remind you of the need - our need- to be especially vigilant towards those who would dismiss us. Enoch Waters - "rights are best protected by those who suffer most by their abuse."

 

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February 2000