By Aria Brent,
AFRO Staff Writer,

For well over a century the AFRO has made it a priority to focus on and report headlines that are most relevant to the African-American community. Since its founding in 1892, the AFRO has been front and center for local, national and international news. As the historic news organization celebrates their 131st birthday, those who have been impacted by and worked with the AFRO are recognizing the magnitude of this milestone.

“Being born and raised in Baltimore, the AFRO was something you were familiar with. We knew it was for us and it was by us,” said Sen.Cory McCray (D-Md.-45). “When you think about our community’s story there is no other publication telling our stories the way that it deserves.”

In year 131, Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper, CEO and publisher of the AFRO, noted that the company’s community involvement is what’s helped build their reputation for being a known pillar in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area. 

“I think the AFRO has a good reputation for being a part of the community,” Draper said. “We report through various platforms and we provide information for the African-American communities we serve. The AFRO is a known entity and we report the kind of news that you cannot easily find in other places.”

Sharing that it has always been a priority of the AFRO’s to tell stories that advance and promote the African-American race, Draper explained that they pride themselves on shining a light on organizations and people who are from all aspects of life. 

“The AFRO has been the main source of news and information affecting Black people in the greater Baltimore and Washington area. The AFRO was and still is what many of us depend on to get the other side of the story,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.). “Since 1892, when Mr. Murphy first founded the paper, it always had credibility in the general community but more specifically the Black community because it is the source of news that you don’t get elsewhere.”

“It’s important for us all to say that we support the AFRO and we always will. They’re a news source that represents us as a race of people,” Mfume added. 

Draper said lifting up leaders and common folk alike is crucial to the AFRO. 

“We are most impactful when we report on events and people that you would not necessarily know,” said Draper. “They don’t have to commit a crime or be famous to make the front pages of the AFRO. We pride ourselves on being able to highlight people from all over.” 

The AFRO is the oldest Black owned business in the state of Maryland and with a series of archives that rival the Smithsonian; there’s no denying their rich history. The company’s constant desire to report news in a way it’s never been done before is what’s helped the media organization continue to be a staple within the Black press and the many areas they serve.

Thanks to technology they’ve been able to fulfill the dreams of their founder, John H. Murphy Sr., while innovating and growing into a multifaceted multimedia company.

“The AFRO is an historic institution that for 131 years has remained a key leader, partner, and source of knowledge and truth,” said Maryland First Lady Dawn Moore. “The AFRO is vital to our state’s legacy and future. We thank them for preserving Maryland’s diverse history and reporting on our culture with the integrity we deserve.”

McCray thanked the AFRO for providing not only news to the African-American community but hope and inspiration as well.

 “Thank you for being the most authentic [publication]. Thank you for celebrating Black excellence through and through,” said McCray. “Everytime I look at the AFRO, I know who I am and I feel confident that I can do anything that I want to do. The AFRO has delivered impeccable service over the last 131 years and I’m excited about their future.” 

“The AFRO might have been started by a man named Murphy, but the AFRO is not just made up of Murphy family,” said Draper. “There are people who have joined our team, over the years and who are currently still a part of our team, that are dedicated to this mission, and I just want to say how much I personally appreciate them.” 

Just as the AFRO has helped the community– the community has supported the AFRO. One does not exist without the other and this week, the AFRO would like to thank all of the readers and followers for their support over the decades. 

Here’s to 131 years of Black news, Black culture and Black lives that matter: Happy Birthday AFRO!