African-American Press

How was the black press sustained in antebellum America?

Self-expression in the black community, whether slave of free, always found a way to exist. During slavery, blacks were forbidden to read or write, yet many did so and gained access to the black-oriented publications that existed. An early black publication that was popular was David Walker’s “Appeal, in Four Articles, Together with a Preamble to the Coloured Citizens of the World, but in Particular, and Very Expressly to Those of the United States of America,” which was published in 1827. It was a pamphlet that was published in several editions, and which stirred the public in the South and the North. Blacks were imprisoned, in some instances, simply for possessing a copy. After the Civil War, many publications aimed at the black community were published in pamphlet form.


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