Black Journalist T. Thomas Fortune Prophetically Predicts Today’s Political Climate

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-09-26 01:14Z by Steven

Black Journalist T. Thomas Fortune Prophetically Predicts Today’s Political Climate

African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)
2016-09-24

Shawn Leigh Alexander, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and Director of the Langston Hughes Center
University of Kansas

Newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the National Afro-American League, heralded as the first major all-black civil rights organization.

Civil rights activist and journalist T. Thomas Fortune was one of the most eloquent and instrumental voices of black America from 1880 to 1928. In 1883 Fortune, who was born into slavery in Florida, relocated to New York and became the lead editor of the New York Globe (subsequently named the Freeman and the Age), which quickly became the most widely read black paper of the era.

Using the paper as his pulpit he became a prominent outspoken critic of southern racism, a promoter of racial solidarity and race pride, and an uncompromising advocate for civil and political rights of African Americans. He was also the mastermind behind the creation of the nation’s first national civil rights organization, the Afro-American League, which provided the framework for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

T. Thomas Fortune, the Afro-American Agitator: A Collection of Writings, 1880-1928

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2016-09-25 21:22Z by Steven

T. Thomas Fortune, the Afro-American Agitator: A Collection of Writings, 1880-1928

University Press of Florida
2008-06-15
342 pages
6 x 9
Hardcover ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3232-0
Paper ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3548-2

Shawn Leigh Alexander, Associate Professor of African-American Studies
University of Kansas

Born into slavery, T. Thomas Fortune was known as the dean of African American journalism by the time of his death in the early twentieth century. The editorship of three prominent black newspapers–the New York Globe, New York Freeman, and New York Age–provided Fortune with a platform to speak against racism and injustice.

For nearly five decades his was one of the most powerful voices in the press. Contemporaries such as Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington considered him an equal, if not a superior, in social and political thought. Today’s histories often pass over his writings, in part because they are so voluminous and have rarely been reprinted. Shawn Leigh Alexander’s anthology will go a long way toward rectifying that situation, demonstrating the breadth of Fortune’s contribution to black political thought at a key period in American history.

Tags: , , , ,

Building Multiracial Fortunes: Black Identity, Masculinity, and Authenticity Through the Body of T. Thomas Fortune, 1883-1907

Posted in Biography, Dissertations, History, Media Archive, United States on 2012-03-01 04:23Z by Steven

Building Multiracial Fortunes: Black Identity, Masculinity, and Authenticity Through the Body of T. Thomas Fortune, 1883-1907

San Diego State University
Fall 2011
69 pages

Guy Mount

A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of San Diego State University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in History

This thesis examines the post-emancipation formation of African American identity, masculinity, and authenticity through the white skinned, multiracial body of T. Thomas Fortune, the premier African American newspaper editor of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. It argues that multiracial African American men like Fortune were central to the collective construction of an authentic black male identity between 1883 and 1907. Often functioning as foil characters in elaborate racial performances which characterized them as less authentic, less masculine, and more subject to racial disloyalty, Fortune and others who visually presented a racially ambiguous body challenged this narrowly drawn and internally imposed paradigm of orthodox black male authenticity while resisting its implications.

Emerging from chattel slavery in Florida and surviving a particularly violent strand of Reconstruction in Marianna County, Fortune relocated to New York City where he harnessed the power of the press to fight white racism and eventually enter the debates over a rapidly crystallizing image of black masculinity. In doing so he attempted to inscribe an alternative political meaning to interracial sexuality, the bodies of white skinned African Americans, and indeed, the very notion of authentic black manhood itself. All of these projects were informed by Fortune’s deeply rooted anxiety regarding his own white skinned body and what it signified within the black community.

Ultimately this formulation and the ongoing struggle over the meaning of blackness, was acted out by Fortune and others at the expense of black women. This process of defining black authenticity and black manhood effectively established a firm patriarchal order within elite African American discourse as it attempted to assert black manhood by controlling the sexualized bodies of black women while silencing their voices in the public sphere. In this way, white skinned African American male bodies can serve as a useful example of the complex problematic of what it means to be a gendered black subject in early Jim Crow America. What emerges, in the end, are complicated, dynamically engaged subjects trying to grasp at an authentic, stable identity that was always shifting, transforming, and at times, vanishing from sight.

The four chapters found here cover topics such as the emerging black nationalist movement, segregated insane asylums, the interracial marriage of Frederick Douglass to Helen Pitts in 1884, and the internal debates over the use of the terms ‘Negro,’ ‘colored,’ or ‘Afro-American’ to self-identify African Americans. Methodologically this thesis draws inspiration from Lacanian psychoanalysis, the linguistic work of Jacques Derrida, and the conception of the body, sexuality, and decentralized power networks as envisioned by Michel Foucault.

Read the entire thesis here.

Tags: , , , , ,