The Father of the Negro Press, Claude Barnett
*On this date in 1889, Claude Barnett was born. He was an African American journalist and entrepreneur.
From Sanford, Fla., Claude Albert Barnett moved to Illinois to live with relatives when he was very young. In 1906, he received and engineering degree from Tuskegee Institute. He worked as a postal clerk and as an advertising salesman in Chicago until 1915. During this time he created a small mail order business, marketing photos of famous Black Americans. Along with others he established the Kashmir Chemical Company (a cosmetics firm) too. Barnett noticed the need for a news service geared to Black newspapers, one that was concerned with themes relevant to the African American community.
In 1919, he founded the associated Negro Press (ANP). By 1935, the ANP was serving over 200 subscribers across the country and after WW II its membership grew to include more than 100 African American newspapers. During World War II, Barnett and other black journalist pressured the U. S. government to accredit black journalist as war correspondents. In his travels he wrote many accounts on the adverse effects of segregation in the armed forces. Barnett was also focused on the terrible living conditions of black tenant farmers. From 1942 to 1953, he served as a consultant to the Secretary of Agriculture in an effort to improve their conditions.
He was a member of the Tuskegee board of directors until 1965. He held similar post with the American Red Cross, Chicago’s Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, and was president of the board of directors of Provident Hospital. The ANP ceased operating after Barnett died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1967.
The Claude Barnett Papers
7500 Old Georgetown Rd Suite 1300
Bethesda MD 20814.6126 USA
Photography by Vincent Saunders, Jr.,
courtesy of the Chicago History Museum