A display wall showcases the front pages of the nation's black newspapers. (Travis Riddick/NNPA)
**FILE** A display wall showcases the front pages of the nation's Black newspapers. (Travis Riddick/NNPA)

In 1827, the nation’s first African-American newspaper — Freedom’s Journal — was established in New York City.

Co-editors John B. Russwurm and Samuel E. Cornish, two free Black men — an abolitionist and a Presbyterian minister — stated in the paper’s first Page One editorial, “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations, in things which concern us dearly, though in the estimation of some mere trifles.”

They wrote about the abolition of slavery, education, economics, and civic engagement and all things “that concern us as a people.” Their editorials kept the flame of hope burning for a brighter future for the enslaved and the free.

One hundred and ninety-two years later, the National Newspaper Publishers Association — the trade association for the Black Press of America — is proudly keeping the torch burning and hosting publishers in the Nation’s Capital this week to commemorate Black Press Week. With nearly 200 member newspapers in 36 states across the U.S., NNPA supports its members who reach an audience of more than 20 million readers whose voices it listens to and for whom they speak.

In this age of 21st-century media technology, NNPA media owners are the vanguards in media ownership. They are adding to their broadly-circulated weekly printed newspapers, a spectrum of vibrant websites, impactful digital newsletters, active social media messaging, television and radio broadcasts, podcasts and broadly-supported community events.

NNPA publishers no longer see themselves as just newspaper publishers, but as corporate media owners and leaders whose mission it is to employ committed and talented journalists to tell the untold stories impacting the lives of all Americans of African descent in our local markets, across the U.S. and around the globe.

It is not easy for Black publishers today to maintain their publications in this highly-competitive, fast-paced digital era while other media simultaneously face allegations of fake news. But then again, it has never been easy when the primary purpose of the Black Press was to oppose accepted systems and practices in the U.S. of bondage, subjugation, racism, sexism, discrimination, bigotry, intolerance, mass incarceration and more against Black people. Corporate advertisers were few and far between. Yet, the Black Press has survived for 192 years due to Black people sacrificing their nickels and dimes to support their Black newspapers.

The Washington Informer is proud to be a part of this history and we are grateful to our readers, advertisers and supporters for allowing us to commemorate another year of the Black Press in America.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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