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African American Newspapers

Image of the Kansas State Globe newspaper

The Kansas State Globe is one of a number of African American newspapers that have been published in Kansas.

In the 1870s former slave Benjamin "Pap" Singleton envisioned thriving Midwestern communities populated by African Americans. Singleton placed his hopes for a better life on a colonizing campaign he directed toward residents of Kentucky and Tennessee. He successfully distributed his message through African American newspapers.

Two hundred black settlers responded to "Pap" Singleton's campaign, moving west to Nicodemus in Graham County, Kansas. They completed their long journey from Lexington, Kentucky, to the central Kansas plains in 1878. By 1886 the community supported three newspapers.

Black newspapers offer insight into the history of African American communities. These local publications often featured church news and items of specific interest to readers, usually without the support of advertising. They also discussed issues considered politically incorrect by other publishers.

Since 1876 black newspapers have been published in Kansas representing 22 communities and 18 counties. The first publication encouraged black voters to participate in the upcoming election. The paper went out of business the week after the election. Over the years many other newspapers have sprung up and faded during election years urging blacks to exercise their right to vote in order to preserve their hard-won freedom.

The Colored Citizen, a Topeka newspaper, promoted education of African Americans. As early as 1878 editor William Lewis Eagleson and other publishers spoke out against segregation in schools. A proponent of colonization, The Colored Citizen encouraged Black migration in the late 1870s and provided a unique message of realism. "Never leave home for Kansas without having some money over and above what it takes to pay your transportation," Eagleson warned." For the old men and women chances for great success in Kansas are not flattering."

Throughout history Black newspapers have given a voice to local communities in Kansas, promoted change, and championed important causes and leaders. Their voice is an important part of Black heritage and is being preserved at the Society, whose collections include nearly one hundred African American newspapers.

The Historical Society maintains an online list of more than 80 African American newspapers published in Kansas.

Entry: African American Newspapers

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1996

Date Modified: July 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.