Who was called the “dean of African-American journalism”?

Journalist, civil rights activist, and printer T. Thomas Fortune (1856–1928), who was born in Marianna, Florida, had little formal education but was enthralled by the newspaper business and learned the trade. He became a printer, a publisher, and an outspoken and militant journalist. Fortune came to be known as the dean of African-American journalism: He worked for, owned, and published several newspapers. His ideas appeared in his journalistic writing and in his book, Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South (1884). While editor of the New York Age, he conceived of ideas which led to the formation of the Afro-American League, which became defunct in 1893; however, he was asked to aid in the development of the Afro-American Council (1898), which had almost the same concerns as the league. Many of these same issues are seen in the Niagara Movement and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Fortune worked with civil rights organizations and leaders in addition to his editorial efforts for civil rights. He was well acquainted with Booker T. Washington and they shared many ideas. He became the editor of the Negro World, the organ of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, supported black women activists, and aided in the efforts of Ida B. Wells (Barnett) with information, employment, and help for her lecture engagements. The methodologies and proposals in Fortune’s editorial writing foreshadow the direction of twentieth-century civil rights.


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