October 4, 1864:
On this day the first Black owned and operated newspaper was founded.
The New Orleans Tribune is a newspaper serving the African-American community of New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as the name of a bilingual publication that served the area in the 1860s. The current publication was founded in 1985. The Tribune is published by McKenna Publishing Co., which also publishes The Blackbook, a community directory of African-American businesses, and Welcome, a guide for Black tourists to New Orleans. The original and only other version of The New Orleans Tribune became America’s first Black daily newspaper. The newspaper’s editorials called for full suffrage, civil rights for all, free public education for all, and carried on a war against President Andrew Johnson’s policies by sending copies of the Tribune to every member of the U.S. Congress on a regular basis. That enterprise was founded in 1864 by physician and publisher Louis Charles Roudanez; it was created after the demise of his former paper L’Union. Francophone astronomer, author, and abolitionist from Europe Jean-Charles Houzeau worked with Roudanez at L’Union and thenThe New Orleans Tribune. He wrote an account of his experiences at the paper along with the volcanic politics of the day. After intraparty feuding over political candidates for the 1868 gubernatorial election, including disputes between local “mulattoes” such as Roudanez against “carpetbaggers” and freedmen within the Republican Party, the paper lost outside support and closed in 1870. With his Tribune colleagues and a dynamic community of free and freed persons of African descent, Roudanez courageously attacked racism in the face of some of the nation’s worst violence. He was the guiding force behind one of the most radical and influential journals of its time. The Tribune’s crusade led to Black enfranchisement, the creation of a groundbreaking State constitution with strong equal rights provisions, and the election of many Black representatives. The vision of Roudanez, articulated in print and manifested in social protest, forged one of the most important civil rights campaigns in U.S. history.