Once distinct, the commercial and alternative black press began to crossover with one another in the 1920s. The porous press culture that emerged shifted the political and economic motivations shaping African American journalism. It also sparked disputes over radical politics that altered news coverage of some of the most momentous events in African American history. Starting in the 1920s, Fred Carroll traces how mainstream journalists incorporated coverage of the alternative press's supposedly marginal politics of anti-colonialism, anti-capitalism, and black separatism into their publications. He follows the narrative into the 1950s, when an alternative press re-emerged as commercial publishers curbed progressive journalism in the face of Cold War repression. Yet, as Carroll shows, journalists achieved significant editorial independence, and continued to do so as national newspapers modernized into the 1960s. Alternative writers' politics seeped into commercial papers via journalists who wrote for both presses and through professional friendships that ignored political boundaries. Compelling and incisive, Race News reports the dramatic history of how black press culture evolved in the twentieth century.
Fred Carroll is a lecturer at Kennesaw State University.