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ILAACP: Do You Remember The Negro Digest?

Posted by Admin On February - 26 - 2014

Letters to Editor

(From The Illinois Affirmative Action Coalition for Prevention)

In November of 1942, John H. Johnson, a young African American entrepreneur from Virginia, and the grandson of slaves, aspired to exceed the expectations placed upon him and Black America during a time of political and civil unrest, and promote upward mobility within the Black community. Johnson took out a $500 loan and launched the first edition of the Negro Digest. The monthly publication contained scholarly articles as well as original features all pertaining to the African American community.  The Negro Digest, priced at 25 cents each, sold over 150,000 copies each month.

Last year, the Illinois African American Coalition for Prevention (ILAACP) obtained the first run of the Negro Digest (1942-1951). As ILAACP staff thumbed through some of the articles we couldn’t help but notice that much of the publication’s subject matter regarding African Americans’ civil rights education, economics, and politics  are just as relevant today as they were 70 years ago. With contributions from some of America’s most profound thought leaders including Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, Eleanor Roosevelt, Richard Wright, and Zora Neale Hurston, the Negro Digest was very adept at making sure issues important to African American life remained at the forefront of national and, in some instances, international public discourse.

Over the course of the next year, the ILAACP will share the Negro Digest’s Round Table section on our blog, Facebook, and Twitter platforms. Arguably the publication’s most interesting and well-regarded column, the Round Table posed often difficult, controversial questions to leading scholars who were then required to take a yes or no position. Topics ranged from “Should Negroes Demand Equality Now?” to “Will Negro Achievement Curb Race Discrimination?” We hope that these articles will not only remind you of the challenges that our community faced at a turning point in American history, but also provide testament to how far we’ve come and how much further we must go 70 years later to ensure safe, healthy, and resilient African American children, families, and communities.


In the spirit of Sankofa,

Malik S. Nevels, J.D.
Executive Director

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