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     "We wish to plead our own cause." This simple demand formally launched the Black press in America, a voice whose views have resonated for nearly 175 years. During this period the nation and its Black citizens have experienced profound change, perhaps best represented by the transition from slavery to freedom. Over the course of the 20th century, the struggle for equal rights of citizenship has shaped our lives. For seventy-five years we have formally explored Black contributions to America and the world by setting aside time in February to educate the masses and to celebrate the Black experience. Throughout this time, the Black press has often been the vehicle of communication. It seems fitting then that in Black History Month 2000 we focus on the role of the Black press in America.

     Our guest editor, Dr. Clint Wilson has made a substantial contribution to modern scholarship with the publication of his seminal work A History of the Black Press. (Howard University Press, 1997) which was based on the early research of Dr. Armistead Pride. His essay in HUArchivesNet "...to plead our own cause," is an important introduction to the work of Black newsmen and women and is excerpted from the larger work. This is also the source of the discussion of the future of the Black press "survival debates and the common cause." Perhaps the advocacy role of the Black press is no better represented than in times of strife. This is clearly reflected in "Mobilizing the Masses: The Cleveland Call and Post and the Scottsboro Incident." This issue also includes a message from John J. Oliver, Jr., President of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, the umbrella organization for America's Black press. In addition, the editor has included a background discussion on the documentation of the Black press. As we look to the future, we should remind ourselves of the motto on Freedom's Journal's mast head: "Righteousness exalteth a nation."

Thomas C. Battle, Ph.D.
Director, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center


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February 2000