Black Quotidian: Everyday History in African-American Newspapers

Politics & Voting

Access to the ballot and political representation has been an important issue for black people since Emancipation. Black newspapers chronicled this ongoing fight for political equality. While the political views of African-American newspaper owners and editors were not monolithic—the Norfolk Journal and Guide and Atlanta Daily World, for example, were more moderate than the Chicago Defender and the Pittsburgh Courier—each paper attended to a range of political activities. Pages of the black press featured coverage of voter registration drives, such as Maggie Bozeman and Julia Wilder’s efforts to register rural voters in Pickens County, Alabama, in the early 1980s; tracked the presidential runs of Shirley Chisholm and Jesse Jackson; and praised other pioneering campaigns, such as Robert N.C. Nix Sr., the first African American to represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Vel Phillips, the first black woman to win a statewide election in Wisconsin. The black press also kept close tabs on legal efforts to secure the right to vote, as well as attempts to keep blacks from the polls.

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