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Black Colleges and the Black Press Revive Old Partnership

Posted: Jul 02, 2012

 — It was a reunion of sorts. The presidents of seven Black colleges met Black newspaper publishers for a breakfast consisting of French toast, eggs and bacon. The setting was the annual convention of the National Newspaper Publishers Association here. And the goal was a familiar one — explore ways to strengthen a unique partnership that predated the modern Civil Rights Move­ment.

The relationship between Black colleges and the Black Press dates back to 1944, when Frederick Patterson, president of Tuskegee Institute and Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of what is now Bethune-Cookman University, established the United Negro College Fund, a federation of private Black colleges. Patterson utilized the Black Press to garner support for and increase the visibility of the fledgling organization and to also alert Blacks to the financial struggles of the 27 HBCUs sprinkled across the South at the time.

In the book, Envisioning Black Colleges: A History of the United Negro College Fund, Marybeth Gasman noted the significance of the relationship between Black schools and the Black press to the survival of higher education in the Black community:

“According to Morehouse president Benjamin Mays, the UNCF required the support of the Black press including the Pittsburg Courier, the Chicago Defender, the Baltimore Afro-American, the Atlanta Daily World and the New York Amsterdam News during this time as well as any time the Fund was asking for support: ‘It was important because all Negroes were reading and they were seeing how important it was, that the Negro colleges needed the Fund…You can’t get along without the media.’” Read more here.

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