White Crime and the Early African American Press: Elements of Reprinting and Reporting in New York's Freedom's Journal
- American Periodicals: A Journal of History & Criticism
- The Ohio State University Press
- Volume 29, Number 2, 2019
- pp. 121-134
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This article investigates the representation of crime in the first African American newspaper, New York's Freedom's Journal (1827–29). In a growing body of scholarship on law, criminal narrative, and antebellum African American literature, discussions of the early black press are remarkably absent. This article makes a case for the relevance of Freedom's Journal to these critical conversations. It views the first African American newspaper as an important bridge between the popular first-person biographies of condemned black felons from colonial and early national America and the more familiar slave narratives of the antebellum period. It argues that Freedom's Journal purposefully reverses the negative stereotypes of blacks and crime located in the earlier ephemera, and more contemporary publications like Skillman's New York Police Reports, by exclusively reporting the criminal actions of whites. To achieve this, Freedom's Journal collects and reprints previously published notices of white crime from newspapers scattered across the nation, in an effort to create a lawful space for black citizens in New York following the state's recent abolition of slavery.