Last week Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Alexis Johnson was banned from covering George Floyd’s protests in the paper due to a tweet on her personal account which the paper claimed to show bias. In response to her removal, people across the United States started showing support for Alexis and protesting on Twitter.
In one interview Alexis said, “Black journalists have been covering these stories since the beginning of time.” Abolitionist and journalist Martin Delany, published the first African American newspaper west of the Allegheny Mountains, The Mystery in 1843 in Pittsburgh. He then went on to collaborate with Fredrick Douglas on the North Star out of Rochester, New York.
In West Virginia during 1904, the McDowell Times was the leading African-American newspaper in the state. Creator and Editor M. T. Whittico was the driving force behind this newspaper and he kept it flourishing until his death in 1939.
In 1907 Robert L. Vann joined forces with the Pittsburgh Courier helping it become a force for social change for blacks in America. It was the most influential African American newspaper in the country.
Without journalists like Delaney, Whittico, Vann, and Johnson, our country would lack the crucial perspective of African Americans in America. Because of their courage and perseverance we are able to see history through a more accurate lens.
We here at the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center stand with Alexis Johnson and other journalists of color who face the threat of being silenced. Their stories must be heard.