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At one time, over 100 black newspapers were in Arkansas

Johnathan Reaves, KASU News

At one point in American history, over 500 black newspapers were in publications.  Over 100 of those papers were in Arkansas.  Professor of Multimedia Journalism at Arkansas State University Dr. Lillie Fears presented a program on the history of the black press.  She said the first black newspaper published in America was The Freedom Journal in 1827.  It was started by Reverend Samuel Cornish and John Russwurm.  Fears says their work started the movement to end slavery in America.  She says black papers increased exponentially, and the first black paper in Arkansas started in 1869. 

Fears says a lot of those papers were short-lived, but they were an important part of change in America:


While there are no records of black newspapers being published in northeast Arkansas, there were papers in places like Helena, Little Rock, Holly Grove, Wynne, and Pine Bluff. Some of the papers in Arkansas included Arkansas Mansion, Colored American, Jacob's Friend, and the Arkansas State Press.  Arkansas State Press was started in 1941 by L.C. and Daisy Bates.  Arkansas also produced the late John H. Johnson, whose family moved to Chicago when he was in the eighth grade.  Johnson eventually would start Ebony Magazine in 1945 and Jet Magazine would follow in 1951.

Johnathan Reaves is the News Director for KASU Public Radio. As part of an Air Force Family, he moved to Arkansas from Minot, North Dakota in 1986. He was first bitten by the radio bug after he graduated from Gosnell High School in 1992. While working on his undergraduate degree, he worked at KOSE, a small 1,000 watt AM commercial station in Osceola, Arkansas. Upon graduation from Arkansas State University in 1996 with a degree in Radio-Television Broadcast News, he decided that he wanted to stay in radio news. He moved to Stuttgart, Arkansas and worked for East Arkansas Broadcasters as news director and was there for 16 years.