By the early 1800s, writing had became an important part of the black struggle for freedom. It gave blacks a way to defend themselves publicly and share information quickly.
In 1793, Thomas Gray, Absalom Jones, and Richard Allen (1760-1831), three prominent black leaders in Philadelphia, published long essays denouncing those who supported slavery and treated free blacks unfairly. These writings were distributed at black churches, antislavery meetings, and other gatherings in the free North.
On March 16, 1827, John. B. Russwurm and Samuel E. Cornish published the first black newspaper, Freedom’s Journal, to answer a series of attacks on the black community that had been made in a white New York newspaper. It was published for over three years.
By the Civil War (1861-1865), over forty publications were being issued by blacks.