Racial Progression

Thirty-one years after the emancipation of African American slaves, a newspaper for and about African Americans was founded through the work of great men of the nineteenth century.   Throughout the Afro-American's history, its editors, columnists, and reporters have reported important information pertaining to the evolving African American community.  This page analyzes what the Afro-American expressed about the progression of the African American community during its early years of publication.

After years of being referred to as chattel,  African Americans began to question what they should be called.  On August 10, 1895,  an article  in the Afro-American addressed this question.  A subscriber wrote to the editor asking why "every nation inherits the name of their nativity except the colored race."  On the second page of that edition the editor's response was "the terms 'Colored ' or 'Afro-American' are more applicable than 'Negro' or 'Freedmen'  and we advise the the use of all except 'Negro'."  The senior editor felt that the term  "Negro" was offensive because it did not refer to people of African descent.1

Although African Americans were making great strides towards progression, they were still being perceived as incompetent criminals with no morals.  African Americans throughout the United States and especially in Baltimore were politicians, educators, writers, and business men and women.  Even though the gains and accomplishments of African Americans were substantial, they were still being treated unequally by their Caucasian American counterparts.  When compared to immigrants African Americans continually  felt they received the short end of the stick.  While African Americans have been in this country for centuries, immigrants who had not been in the United States as long  as African Americans seemed  to be in a better position both economically and socially. 3

In any community networking and communication have always been important.  While looking through the issues of  the Afro-American newspaper it became apparent that progression among African Americans in Baltimore was  dependent upon a close knit community.  The establishment of the Afro-American was a perfect example of men and women working together for the benefit of the community.  Coincidentally,  a number of these people resided in the same neighborhoods on the west side of Baltimore, particularly the Druid Hill Park area.

African Americans in Baltimore  fellowshipped  and  socialized in the same churches and circles.  Some of  the more prominent churches attended  by African Americans were St. James Episcopal, Union Baptist ,  Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal  (A.M.E) , and Bethel A.M.E.   Similar to churches,  certain social organizations were popular among African Americans, e.g. Y.M.C.A (Young Men's Christian Association) the C.Y.W.C.A (Colored Young Women's Christian Association), and many other fraternal organizations. 

The racial progression of the African American community in Baltimore occurred  because of the interdependence of its community leaders and organizations.  Women and men who worked in the grass root organizations fought to bring about equality and a community infrastructure that would allow for their descendants to continue the struggle.  The Afro American newspaper also believed it had a role in combating such entrenched racism, and to promote "the interest of the race." Their struggle continues...
 Through the Eyes of the Baltimore Afro-American

 Our African Brother

Prepared by Jonelle E. Cruse and Chantale J. Joseph, August 1998 

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