Compiled By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 3, 2022: On March 16, 1827, the first black newspaper was published in the U.S.
It was founded by 27-year-old Caribbean immigrant John Brown Russwurm who was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica to an English father and enslaved mother. As a child he traveled to the United States with his father and received a formal education, becoming the first African American to graduate from Hebron Academy and Bowdoin College.
Russwurm, along with his co-editor Samuel Cornish, published the first edition of Freedom’s Journal, an abolitionist newspaper dedicated to opposition of slavery.
During his tenure as editor, Russwurm regularly included material about ancient and modern African history, providing readers on both sides of the Atlantic with a curated source of information about the continent.
The literary education Russwurm provided in the Freedom Journal also included canonical texts of English literary education. In the poetry column of this first issue, for example, he reprinted “Prediction of the Origin of Rome”, an excerpt from John Ring.
Russwurm became supportive of the American Colonization Society’s efforts to develop a colony for African Americans in Africa, and he moved in 1829 to what became Liberia. In 1836 Russwurm was selected as governor of Maryland in Africa, a small colony set up nearby by the Maryland State Colonization Society. He served there until his death. The colony was annexed to Liberia in 1857.
A statue of Russwurm was erected at his burial site at Harper, Cape Palmas, Liberia. In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante named John Brown Russwurm on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.