I’ve included below a few sample newspaper article clippings from the Library of Congress’s collection of black-owned newspapers from the 1880s through the early 1900s.
“Booker T. Washington on Riots,” The Savannah Tribute, September 29, 1906 (Savannah, GA): pg. 8.
In this column, the Tuskegee Institute educator and prominent orator Booker T. Washington reacts to the Atlanta Race Riot of the previous week. Noting first that he condemns the assault of white women that ignited the violence and denouncing the mob violence reaction, Washington beseeches “the best white people and the best colored people come together in council and use their united efforts to stop the present disorder.” Arguing that the black community will only lose national sympathy if they respond in similarly violent manners, Washington proclaims that the black support for the law is key for racial uplift. This clipping speaks to the black conservative effort to reinforce city institutions as well as invokes the divide between the “best” elite blacks and the criminals who threaten the reputation of the race as a whole. This logic motivates a great deal of black-led reforms in Atlanta, both within the temperance movement and in the related spheres of moral reform, sexual norms, and educational policy.
The Weekly Defiance, February 24, 1883 (Atlanta, Georgia): pg. 3.
This concise clip speaks to the way “the influence of liquor” might be reported in black-written and read newspapers. The incident itself speaks to a reversal of gender norms: when weakened under the influence of liquor, Mr. Morris’s behavior inspires Mrs. Morris to abandon any subservient role and instead use a tool of the home to assert her power and revenge. The dangers of alcohol therefore extend beyond the immediate violence and ultimately challenge gendered expectations: a weakened husband and his dominant wife have no place in the patriarchal Victorian structures expected of the middle-class.
“The Great Destroyer: Some Startling Facts about the Vice of Intemperance,” The True Reformer, July 25, 1900 (Littleton, NC): pg. 2
The lines of verse that begin this column situate the temperance issue as a matter of class: while men raised in a happy, religious home can “safe through streets of public houses roam” while a poor man with a badly kept home and scant resources would struggle to refuse “respite pleasant from hopeless future and from sordid present.” The temptation to drink is then linked to a variety of other social and economic needs. The second part of the column condemns the owners of bars for pretending like they don’t advertise their goods to passerbys. Citing “free lunches” with drinks and the beautiful cabinets, mirrors and polished glasses of the pubs as a sales method, the author paints the hawking of the rumseller as inherently malicious. Also of note is that this column is attributed to the Presbyterian Banner, a connection further linking the church with black-run institutions like The True Reformer.