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The African American Press

The number of black newspapers increased greatly after the Civil War, and by 1890, African Americans had published around 575 newspapers or periodicals. These included the Philadelphia Tribune, founded in 1884 and still in operation today, and the Afro-American, a Baptist church publication founded in 1892, which evolved into a daily newspaper. In general, African American publishers aimed their publications at a small, educated elite, offering commentary from a black perspective and news of particular interest to the African American community rather than comprehensive news coverage. Booker T. Washington had a great deal of influence on the African American press at the turn of the century, as many publications led hard-scrabble existences with low subscriber bases and little advertising revenue. Washington was a clearinghouse for loans, advertisements, and political subsidies, which his critics said he directed toward the papers that supported his accommodationist views. William Monroe Trotter and George Forbes set out to counter Washington's doctrine when they founded the Boston Guardian in 1901. The paper represented the first organized opposition to the policy of accommodation, and pointed the way toward a more militant black press in the 20th century.
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