The Word - Media

Christopher J. Perry

Christopher J. Perry was not only a successful entrepreneur, but also a visionary leader who fought for the rights and dignity of African Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He founded the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continuously published black newspaper in the United States, in 1884, with the mission of informing, educating, and empowering the black community in Philadelphia and beyond. In this blog post, we will explore the life and legacy of this remarkable man, who used his pen and his voice to challenge injustice and promote progress.

Perry was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1854, to free parents who had escaped slavery. He attended public schools and showed an early interest in journalism and politics. He moved to Philadelphia in 1872, where he worked as a barber, a teacher, a clerk, and a reporter for various newspapers. He also became active in local and national black organizations, such as the National Afro-American League and the National Association of Colored Women.

The old Philadelphia Tribune Building

In 1884, Perry decided to start his own newspaper, the Philadelphia Tribune, with a borrowed printing press and a small office on Lombard Street. He wanted to create a platform for black voices and perspectives that were often ignored or distorted by the mainstream media. He also wanted to advocate for social and political reforms that would benefit the black community, such as voting rights, anti-lynching laws, education, and economic opportunities.

The Philadelphia Tribune soon gained popularity and influence among its readers and advertisers. Perry hired talented writers and editors, such as William Still, T. Thomas Fortune, Ida B. Wells, and W.E.B. Du Bois, who contributed to the paper’s quality and diversity of content. He also expanded the paper’s circulation and coverage to other cities and states, making it a national force in black journalism.

Perry was not afraid to speak his mind and challenge the status quo. He criticized the segregationist policies of President Woodrow Wilson and supported the Niagara Movement, a precursor to the NAACP. He also exposed the atrocities of lynching and racial violence in the South and urged his readers to protest and demand justice. He supported black businesses and institutions, such as banks, schools, churches, and fraternal organizations. He celebrated black achievements and culture, such as music, art, literature, and sports.

Christopher J. Perry

Perry died in 1921, leaving behind a legacy of courage and excellence that continues to inspire generations of journalists and activists. The Philadelphia Tribune is still operating today, under the leadership of his grandson Robert W. Bogle, who is the publisher and CEO. The paper remains faithful to Perry’s vision of uplifting and empowering the black community through quality journalism and social advocacy.

Christopher J. Perry was a pioneer in black media and a champion of racial equality. He established the Philadelphia Tribune in 1884 as a vehicle for change and progress. He deserves to be remembered and honored as one of the most influential figures in American history.

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