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date: 05 May 2021

Journalism, Print and Broadcast.locked

  • Wayne Dawkins


Shortly before his death in 1895, the newspaper editor Frederick Douglass shouted over hecklers at the World's Columbian Exhibition of 1893 in Chicago. The editor of the antebellum abolitionist newspapers the North Star and Frederick Douglass’ Paper demanded that the stories of African Americans be included in the four-hundredth anniversary celebration of Christopher Columbus's encounter with the New World.

Until his last breath Douglass advocated for greater participation of and access for African Americans in the mass communications media. That struggle continued in the twenty-first century even though the once rigidly segregated majority press was mostly desegregated because of breakthroughs in the 1960s, followed by gains in the 1970s and 1980s. By the 1990s and the early twenty-first century, African American journalists were engaged in the struggle to integrate the media fully. Results were mixed, yet they demonstrate remarkable improvement over conditions at the time of Douglass's death.

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A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.

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