Howard University Receives $2 Million Grant to Digitize Its Black Newspaper Archive

Image: courtesy of howarduniversity.edu

Howard University has received a $2 million grant to digitize a collection of Black newspaper archives to make them available for researchers and the general public, ABC News reports.

The Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, which supports social justice causes in journalism and the arts, awarded the grant to Howard.

Dating back to the 1970s, the Black Press Archives contains over 2,000 newspaper titles from the U.S., countries in Africa, and the Caribbean. Additionally, the collection includes well-known, progressive Black U.S. papers like the New York Amsterdam News and the Chicago Defender as well as publications written in Xhosa, Kiswahili, and French.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, the founder of the Center for Journalism & Democracy at Howard and EBONY Power 100 awardee, said that having access to the Black papers helps us to get a better understanding of what’s taking place in the Black diaspora today.

“We will be able to go back and look at these archives and these newspapers and the way the Black press was covering the world and have a greater understanding of who we are as a society, who we were back then, and who we are now,” she said. “Right now, we really are only getting a very narrow part of the story, and that is the part of the story told through power and through the ruling class.”

Benjamin Talton, director of Howard’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center which houses the archives noted that most of the collection has been inaccessible to the public due to only a small percentage of materials being microfilmed and the physical copies are extremely fragile.

“Once digitized, Howard’s Black Press Archive will be the largest, most diverse, and the world’s most accessible Black newspaper database,” he said in an email.

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