To mark the AFRO’s 125 years of continuous publication, we have gone through our extensive archives to find the most compelling and informative articles the paper put out with an eye to highlighting unsung heroes and the AFRO employees who have made this paper what it is today.
From the musings of Col. Midnight in the early 1900s, a pseudonym for an AFRO writer named Charles Stewart, to an entire issue dedicated to the President Barack Obama the AFRO has covered the gamut of the Black experience.
The paper is divided into different eras, each shaped by its publisher. The John H. Murphy Sr. era, 1892-1917, is marked by the paper’s coverage of ubiquitous lynchings, White race riots, the fight for suffrage and African American serving in wars.
The Carl J. Murphy era, 1917-1942, sees coverage of historic figures such as W.E.B. DuBois, Walter White, Marcus Garvey, A. Philip Randolph and Carter G. Woodson. In addition, while still fighting for racial justice, the paper turns to the sensational topics of crime and sex as well as more news about entertainment and society figures.
Jim Crow and World War II would dominate the conversation from 1942-1967. The breaking of color barriers by sports figures such as Jackie Robinson and the murder of young Emmett Till would come to be seen as defining moments. While civil rights workers such as Medgar Evers sacrificed their lives, the acceptance of segregation was beginning to crumble.
Between 1967-1992 was a time of turmoil and triumph and the AFRO was there. The death of Martin Luther King Jr. would lead to riots in major cities, including Baltimore. Sports stars such as Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe became bigger than ever, while crack and AIDS swept through and destroyed communities. Jake Oliver became publisher of the AFRO and began to usher in the era of the paper’s digital dominance.
Which leaves us at the current era of 1992 and beyond. The same era that brought us the nation’s first Black president also produced the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland. As traditional civil rights organizations have tried to adapt to modern times groups like Black Lives Matter have sprung up.
While fewer people read newspapers the AFRO has been out in front of the digital revolution bringing the news to people wherever they are on their phones, tablets or whatever comes next. Here’s to the next 125 years.
AFRO Managing Editor