Black Press: The Voice of Black America—Part IV

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(NNPA)—To publish a document is to establish a permanent record for the future.  To publish a newspaper is to preserve an official record of the news and perspectives of a particular period, which is useful today and in the future. The Black Press has been around since the publication of the first Black newspaper. Freedom’s Journal, in 1827, which had as its motto: “We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us.”

But Black protest has also been in the form of pamphlets.  The most famous was published by David Walker, issued two years after the nation’s first Black newspaper. What was it about David Walker’s publishing his Appeal to the Coloured People of the World that made slave masters in 1829 so fearful and uncomfortable?

It was Walker’s inspiring use of the printed word that stirred the very soul and spirits of the enslaved masses of African people to rise up at all cost against the “evils” of slavery.  David Walker’s publication, often referred to as David Walker’s Appeal, gave the antislavery movement a resolute, charismatic voice for grassroots resistance by those held in the “clutches of slavery.”

Walker, a native of Wilmington, N.C., had relocated to Boston, in his quest to escape the overt brutality of chattel slavery in southeastern North Carolina.  According to the David Walker Memorial Project, “Many historians now regard the Appeal as one of the most important social and political documents of the 19th century. Nothing like it had been published before. It remained a rallying point for African Americans for many years after Walker’s death. And it informed the thinking of generations of Black leaders, including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X.”

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