The Black Press Archives and Gallery
of Distinguished Publishers

Joellen ElBashir

     The Black Press Archives was founded in 1973, as a joint project of Howard University and the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), and established at the University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center. The idea of establishing a Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Newspaper Publishers was that of William O. Walker, editor-publisher of the Cleveland Call and Post, who first articulated the need for an academic institution that would provide a setting in which historical records related to the Black press, as well as the newspapers themselves, could be collected, preserved and made available to scholars, students and the public. He also envisioned a gallery in which the photographs and accomplishments of Black press notables would be on permanent display. The idea was developed by the NNPA under the direction of Carlton B. Goodlett, NNPA president and editor-publisher of the San Francisco Sun-Reporter, and welcomed by James E. Cheek, then president of Howard University. In March 1977, during the sesquicentennial celebration of the founding of Freedom's Journal, the first African American newspaper, the Black Press Archives and Gallery of Distinguished Newspaper Publishers were dedicated in ceremonies at Howard University.

     Pioneer African American publishers John B. Russwurm, Samuel E. Cornish, Frederick Douglass, Philip A. Bell and Martin R. Delany were the initial honorees installed in the Gallery. These are joined each year by new inductees, including John H. Murphy, Sr. of the Baltimore Afro-American; Robert S. Abbott of the Chicago Defender; Daisy L. Bates of the Arkansas State Press; C.B. Powell of the New York Amsterdam News; William Monroe Trotter of the Boston Guardian; Frank L. Stanley of the Louisville Defender and others.

     A major project of the Black Press Archives has been the microfilming of Black newspapers from around the world. The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center receives more than 200 newspapers currently, and has in its newspaper archives more than 400 titles on microfilm. A second component of the program is the solicitation and acquisition of the personal papers of outstanding journalists, cartoonists, editors and publishers.

 

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February 2000