Frederick Douglass is the father of the black press. In 1847, one-hundred and sixty-five years ago today, The North Star was first published.
From Daniel Wallace Culp’s 1902 Twentieth Century Negro Literature: Or, A Cyclopedia of Thought on the Vital Topics Relating to the American Negro:
“This demand for a Negro journal was first met between 1827 and 1834 by unpretentious sheets in and about New York City. But it was not until 1847 that race journalism became a positive factor, when that intrepid spirit, Frederick Douglass, launched “The North Star.” This great man built up a circulation upon two continents and wielded an influence not exceeded by any subsequent race venture. That paper blazed a wide path, and in its path followed enterprise after enterprise, developing the sentiment for liberty and keeping in touch with the newer requirements of the hour.”
Douglass’ own thoughts on the black press captured in Irvine Garland Penn’s 1891 The Afro-American Press and Its Editors:
“I think the course to be pursued by the colored Press is to say less about race and claims to race recognition and more about the principles of justice, liberty, and patriotism. It should say more of what we ought to do for ourselves, and less about what the Government ought to do for us; more in the interest of morality and economy and less in the interest of office-getting; more in commending the faithful and inflexible men who stand up for our rights, and less for the celebration of balls, parties, and brilliant entertainments; more in respect to the duty of the Government to protect and defend the colored man’s rights in the South, and less in puffing individual men for office; less of arrogant assumption for the colored man, and more of appreciation of his disadvantages, in comparison with those of other varieties of men who opportunities have been broader and better than his.”