Howard University will soon be home to the largest collection of digitized Black newspaper articles in the world.
After a $2 million grant from the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, an organization that supports entities that advance social justice by promoting investigative journalism, the arts, and documentary film, Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center will hold access to numerous digitized articles from historic Black newspapers that captured some of the most impactful times in our country’s history.
The Black Press Archives at the Washington D.C.-based HBCU includes 2,847 microfilm reels of newspapers, that have more than 100,000 issues of publications from Black newspapers in America, Africa, and other nations according to NBC News.
“When we think about how white newspapers have shared our collective understanding of the world, that is a very narrow view of what was happening,” said Nikole Hannah-Jones, founder of the Center for Journalism and Democracy at Howard and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist according to NBC News. “And so having access to how Black newspapers covered colonialism, for instance, or how Black newspapers covered apartheid, or the Black freedom struggle in America … that just gives us a fuller picture, gives us a greater understanding.”
It’s important for people of all races to have access to these articles and publications in a digitized format that can be easily accessible. For so many years, traditional media sources have failed to truly depict the viewpoints of Black people across this country and from the rest of the world. Having insight into how Black media covered some of the biggest issues in history will be enlightening for many people.
“We were only getting a very one-sided version of our history,” said Hannah-Jones. “Newspapers cataloged the day-to-day in our society to help us understand the politics of our society, the culture of our society… The fuller version of all that can be found within the Black archives at Howard. So, it’s extremely exciting that this money is going to help preserve this precious archive, but also make it accessible to millions of people across the world.”
The access to these archives will prove to be very impactful for many journalists and citizens who are looking to understand the plight and the experiences of some of the communities they cover. Many have said that there is a disconnect between traditional media and minority audiences because white reporters don’t see the world from the same view as Black people.
The digitized Black Press Archives will serve as a way to bridge the cultural gap in media and educate future generations for years to come.