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The Afro-American citizen. [volume] : (Charleston, S.C.) 1899-1902
Place of publication:
Charleston, S.C.
Geographic coverage:
  • Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Citizen Pub. Co.
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1899; ceased in 1902?
  • English
  • African Americans--South Carolina--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Charleston (S.C.)--Newspapers.
  • Charleston County (S.C.)--Newspapers.
  • South Carolina--Charleston County.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01210029
  • South Carolina--Charleston.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204603
  • South Carolina.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204600
  • Archived issues are available in digital format as part of the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 38 (Jan. 17, 1900).
  • Microfilmed by the Library of Congress for the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Soceties.
sn 83025782
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The Afro-American citizen. [volume] January 17, 1900 , Image 1


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Afro-American Citizen

The weekly Charleston Afro-American Citizen (1899-ca. 1902) represents something of a puzzle for scholars. To date, only one issue, filmed at the request of the Committee on Negro Studies of the American Council of Learned Societies, has ever surfaced. The few known facts about the Afro-American Citizen are primarily gleaned from the American Newspaper Directory, Charleston City Directory, and the sole extant issue, dated January 17, 1900.

The Afro-American Citizen was published every Wednesday, starting in 1899. Louis George Gregory served as editor; the Reverend Samuel S. Youngblood acted as business manager. The publisher, Citizen Publishing Company, shared an office on 71 Hasell Street with the African Protective League of America and another weekly African American newspaper, the Charleston Enquirer. At the paper’s masthead appeared the motto: “Devoted to the interest of the republic and dedicated most especially to the struggling but rising Afro-Americans.” A one-year subscription cost $1.00.

The January 17, 1900, issue of the Afro-American Citizen offers a window into the cultural and intellectual life in black Charleston at the turn of the 20th century.  Alongside its coverage of national and international news, the Citizen included local gossip, a summary of the annual meeting of the Sumner Debating Club (named after the abolitionist United States Senator Charles Sumner), and accolades for the Arkansas Appreciator-Union, edited by Louis Gregory’s fellow classmate at Fisk University, John Wilson Pettus. The Citizen encouraged its readers to take advantage of the free reading rooms of the Colored Young Men’s Christian Association and defended the reputation of the Reverend Daniel Joseph Jenkins, pastor of the Fourth Baptist Church in Charleston and founder of Jenkins Orphanage. The prominent mention of Jenkins Orphanage is noteworthy; music historians have long recognized the Jenkins Orphanage bands as a training ground for jazz musicians, many of whom went on to play with the big band leaders Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Lionel Hampton. 

Editor Louis Gregory would later go on practice law and work for the United States Department of the Treasury, but he is most well-known for his lifelong service to the Bahá'í faith, which emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind. His involvement with the Citizen has not previously been acknowledged. It would appear that Gregory undertook his editorial duties at the Citizen at roughly the same time he was working for the Avery Normal Institute (an African American school in Charleston).

The Afro-American Citizen ceased publication sometime in 1902, the same year Gregory left Charleston to study law at Howard University.

Provided by: University of South Carolina; Columbia, SC