Taking the Narrative: Black Men who Gained Ownership in Media

Access to media means access to information, education and most importantly a voice. Throughout the years, Black men have not procured sufficient access to media but also ownership.

Men like Earl G. Graves of Black Enterprise, John H. Johnson of Ebony and Jet Magazine, and Robert Johnson of BET, paved the way for Byron Allen (The Weather Channel), Sean “Diddy” Combs (Revolt), and Ulysses Bridgeman (Ebony), and J.C. Watts (Black News Channel) to pick up the torch and carry further than most of us would imagine.

In any functioning society, especially a democratic one, it is vital to have a voice. That voice is even more important in America, a country built to provide a voice for all citizens, but historically disregarded its principles to silence minorities, in particular the voice of the Black community.

Throughout America’s history, Black media has served to not only provide a voice to the Black community but also inform and educate Black citizens.

A perfect example of these intentions is the Freedom’s Journal, America’s first Black newspaper, founded in 1827 by Rev. John Wilk, and other free Black citizens. This form of Black media was created to improve the literacy rate among free Blacks. However, the newspaper ultimately became a tool to fight against other written works and media that mocked free Blacks and encouraged slavery. And this was the beginning of the long history of Black media providing a voice to its community.

While the Freedom’s Journal is no longer around, its existence gave birth to the Savannah Tribune, founded by Louis B. Toome in 1875; the Philadelphia Tribune, founded by Christopher J. Perry in 1884; the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper, founded by Rev. William Alexander in 1982; The Washington Afro-American, founded by Sgt. John H. Murphy and Sr. Murphy in 1892; the Indianapolis Recorder founded by George P. Stewart and William H. Porter in 1895.

All of the men listed were pioneers in media and all of their newspapers are still active today, either in print or digitally. The same way Johnson became a pioneer 75 years ago when he created Ebony Magazine, a lifestyle magazine known for covering Black America from entertainment and sports to professionals and politics. It was an instant success, selling out 25,000 copies of its first issue. Within rece