Timothy Thomas Fortune, Black Newspaper Dean Amplified Black Voices
September 14, 2020
During the late 19th century, when renown activist Ida B. Wells-Barnett began exposing the savagery of lynching, she became a marked women. To elude those who wanted her permanently silenced, she left Memphis Tennessee and headed north. It was in New York City where Wells-Barnett safely relocated and secured immediate employment as a journalist at Timothy Thomas Fortune’s New York Age newspaper.
Because Fortune—renown journalist, editor, and co-owner of what was then the most influential Black newspaper in the United States—operated a successful press of his own, he could provide Wells-Barnett the level of stability associated with employment. Because he controlled the editorial direction of the newspaper, he could assign value to Wells-Barnett’s perspectives and promote them further. And because Timothy Thomas Fortune became one of the most influential Black publishers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries—including serving as chief editor for Marcus Garvey’s Negro World newspaper—he is a historic figure to know and emulate. Like so many formerly enslaved, Fortune worked tirelessly to build businesses and communities where Black people would be safe, grow, and prosper. Despite personal challenges, Fortune spent his life amplifying Black voices desperately needing to be heard.
Today, his historic example offers a demonstration of how to vision, plan, and build under the most difficult circumstances. Because he did, Black people are provided abiding evidence that they can. Click here and be introduced to the pioneering work of Timothy Thomas Fortune, by-way-of an illustrated comic sequence. Be inspired to learn more.