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Mon, 09.16.1889

Claude Barnett, Journalist born

Claude Barnett

*On this date in 1889, Claude Barnett was born. He was a Black 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 an engineering degree from Tuskegee Institute. He worked as a postal clerk and an advertising salesman in Chicago until 1915.

Barnett noticed the need for a news service geared to Black newspapers, which was concerned with themes relevant to the African American community. During this time, he created a small mail-order business, marketing photos of famous Blacks. Along with others, he also established the Kashmir Chemical Company (a cosmetics firm).

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 Black newspapers. During World War II, Barnett and other Black journalists pressured the U. S. government to accredit Black journalists as war correspondents.  In his travels, he wrote many accounts of the adverse effects of Jim Crow 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 to improve their conditions.

The ANP ceased operating after Barnett died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1967. He was a member of the Tuskegee board of directors until 1965. He held a similar post with the American Red Cross, Chicago's Supreme Liberty Life Insurance Company, and was president of the board of directors of Chicago's Provident Hospital.

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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

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