On April 23 {The Afro-American Newspaper} held an afternoon tea celebrating the women who have worked at the paper throughout its history. The event was held at Sharon Baptist Church in Baltimore and featured Toya Corbett, Ph.D. as a guest speaker.

(From L-R) Lisa McNeill, Landa McLaurin, president National Coalition of 100 Black Women Baltimore Metropolitan chapter, Michele Emery, National President, National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Dr. Anne O. Emery, Sheila Davenport, Valerie Ramsey, Michelle Queen at the High Tea Saluting Women of the AFRO. (Photo by A. Lois De Laine)

Women have always played an important role in the Afro’s history and played a critical role in the AFRO’s conception. When the AFRO American Newspapers began on Aug. 13, 1892 it started out as a one page weekly church publication. John H. Murphy Sr., founder of the Afro, merged his church publication with two other church publications and could only do so due to a $200 contribution from his wife, Martha Howard Murphy.

In attendance at the Women’s tea was Reverend Frances Murphy Draper, a descendant of John H. Murphy Sr.  “The AFRO is my family’s business, started by my great grandfather…women have always played an important role and been involved. In fact in the third generation, my mother’s generation, there were more women working than men, very few sons,” said Draper, who sits on the AFRO’s board. “Every significant event that has impacted African-Americans through the past 125 years has been chronicled by the Afro and it’s very important that we keep this going.”

Murphy women have served as editors, Clean/Green Block coordinators, publishers, and chief executives of the paper throughout the years and have inspired and created a path for the women that came after them such Eva Barnes, Mae Dyson, Lula Jones Garrett, Ruth Jenkins and many more of the women who have worked at or are currently working for the paper today.

The Women’s Tea was just one of many upcoming Afro celebrations marking the newspaper’s 125-year anniversary. The next event will be a 125th Anniversary Gala on August 12 at Martin’s Crosswinds. For more information on 125th anniversary proceedings, visit afro.com or call Diane Hocker at 410-554-8243.