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*On this date in 1919, the Associated Negro Press (ANP), the first national news services for African Americans, was established.
The ANP was the oldest and largest Black press service in the United States. Founded in Chicago in 1919 by Claude A. Barnett, a young Black entrepreneur who remained its director for the next four and a half decades, the ANP supplied news stories, opinion columns, feature essays, and reviews of books and movies to Black newspapers throughout the country. The ANP’s service enabled its membership, which included nearly all of the major Black newspapers in the United States as well as many of the smaller ones, to offer their readers detailed coverage of activities within Black communities across the country.
The service also included the latest news about national trends and events concerning Black Americans. With an effective mixture of reforming zeal and business insight, Barnett built the ANP into an important news gathering network that helped to heighten Black self-esteem long before the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. The Claude A. Barnett Papers, publishers at the ANP headquarters office on Chicago’s South Side, sifted information from such sources as reciprocal reports by member Black newspapers, announcements from foundations and organizations, and reports from ANP correspondents.
From these sources their editors compiled news releases. Moreover, the persons who wrote by-lined columns for the ANP were well known in their own fields, and included William L. Pickens, field secretary of the NAACP; Gordon B. Hancock, a founder of the Southern Regional Council; and Frederick D. Patterson, president of Tuskegee Institute and founder of the United Negro College Fund. The ANP’s news releases document a vast range of the experiences of Black Americans from the 1920s through the 1960s. Their organizational papers are the workings of a successful and influential Black business.
Barnett’s contacts with Blacks and whites from all communities generated a rich and varied correspondence that was unique. Barnett retired in 1964, selling the business to Al Duckett, a Black press veteran from New York. Barnett died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1967, and the ANP followed him not too many years afterward. The ANP remained unsurpassed during its time because it gave the Black viewpoint and interpretation of the Black activities gathered and written together by Blacks. This idea is still a good one.
The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York