It is often humbling as an African-American to learn about the pioneers who paved the way for racial equality in various trades all across the board.
Presently, Floyd Mayweather is arguably the most dominant figure in the sport of boxing. However, the sacrifices of the late Jack Johnson definitely laid the groundwork for African-American boxers to receive the respect in the sport they earn today.
Beverly Johnson rose to fame as a model. She eventually became the first black model to appear on the cover of Vogue Magazine. Today, her line of beauty and hair products are a flourishing name brand. Madame C.J. Walker definitely pioneered the hair and beauty industry for black women in the early 20th century. Walker is also known as the first black female millionairess.
As a writer by trade, it behooved me to learn in my past about the people who pioneered a craft I have always enjoyed. Some of my idols include men like Lewis Diuguid and James Baldwin. But long before the published writings of those two men came about, the first black-owned newspaper vociferously delivered the honorable cause of black justice and independence in the early 19th century.
The news publication was called the Freedom’s Journal. This paper was founded on March 16, 1827 by Peter Williams Jr. and three other blacks. The founders chose two black social activists named John B. Russwurm and Samuel Cornish to be the editors of the newspaper. The problem with the so-called abolitionist newspapers of the time was that they often portrayed whites as the sole saviors chastened to the duty of aleviating the fearsome grip of white dehumanization of blacks.
In the historic first issue of the Freedom Journal, the paper’s editors wrote:
“Too long have others spoken for us, too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentations. We deem it expedient to establish a paper and bring into operation all the means with which our benevolent creator has endowed us, for the moral, religious, civil and literary improvement of our race.”
The Freedom Journal discontinued around two years after its foundation. However, the paper’s legacy of utilizing the freedoms of speech and free press definitely paved the way for myself and even the online publication I write for today.