• Steven Heller

The Daily Heller: Periodicals for Equality and Social Justice

There have been a number of important journals dedicated to African American life in the United States. The Merrill C. Berman Collection is among the troves of online resources cataloguing the artifacts of social struggle here and abroad.


Archival, library and public collections are great sources for this important, sometimes under represented or misunderstood documentation. Below are two significant publication (access is free online).



The earliest, if not the richest of these publications, is The Crisis: A Record of the Darker Races, an historically unequalled publication focused on African American civil rights, history, politics and culture. Its ascribed mission was to expose "the danger of race prejudice," report on "the great problem of inter-racial relations" and elevate the status of its constituency.



The publication was founded in 1910 by the great W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963), and was the voice of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which Du Bois also founded in 1909. By 1919 The Crisis had earned 100,000 monthly readers. "As a platform for the NAACP’s views and agenda, the magazine acted as a corrective force in the publishing field when it came to African American representation in the media," states the Digital Collections & Archives at Tufts University (another wellspring for the magazine's archives, with 359 issues). During the Harlem Renaissance in the early 1920s, The Crisis covered almost every part of life for African Americans, addressing women's suffrage, education, children, labor, homes, vacations and the war. It is still published today.



The Berman Collection's "Black Self-Empowerment: From The Crisis to the Black Panthers, 1920s–1990s" archive includes The Black Panther: Black Community News Service . Edited by Judy Juanita (b. 1946) and art directed and designed by Emory Douglas (b. 1943), the paper became the primary historical resource for the party and its conflicts with government agencies ranging from the FBI to local police. It is also digitally documented at the Freedom Archives.


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