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The forum. [volume] : (Springfield, Ill.) 1904-192?
Place of publication:
Springfield, Ill.
Geographic coverage:
  • Peoria, Peoria County, Illinois  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
  • Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois  |  View more titles from this: City County, State
Rogers & Barbour
Dates of publication:
  • Began in 1904?
  • English
  • African American newspapers--Illinois--Springfield.
  • African American newspapers.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799278
  • African Americans--Illinois--Springfield--Newspapers.
  • African Americans.--fast--(OCoLC)fst00799558
  • Illinois--Peoria.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01206107
  • Illinois--Springfield.--fast--(OCoLC)fst01204937
  • Peoria (Ill.)--Newspapers.
  • Springfield (Ill.)--Newspapers.
  • Archived issues are available in digital format from the Library of Congress Chronicling America online collection.
  • Description based on: Volume 3, number 4 (Feb. 3, 1906).
  • Latest issue consulted: July 26, 1917.
sn 86086415
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The forum. [volume] February 3, 1906 , Image 1


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The Springfield Forum

The Springfield Forum was an African American weekly paper founded in Springfield, Illinois, the state's capital, thought to run from 1904 to 1927. Published there for the majority of its run, the Forum was published in Peoria from August 15, 1914, to July 1, 1916, then in both cities after August 15, 1914. Prior to 1917, the paper listed Elmer Lee Rogers (1877-1957) as editor and manager. Born in December of 1877 in Oxford, Mississippi, Rogers was the son of Willis and Nancy Rogers. Before coming to Springfield, he served as editor of the Enterprise, an Oxford newspaper, from 1898 to 1899. Rogers was also the founder and editor of another weekly newspaper published in Springfield, the Illinois Conservator (1905-1950).

An advertisement in 1907 issues claimed the Forum as "the Leading Colored Paper in the City," as having "the largest and best circulation," and as being "Read by Both Races." Another ad touted its circulation as the "largest and best, bona fide circulation of any colored paper in the State excepting Chicago." News coverage included local topics such as deaths, illnesses, weddings, theater performances, and church and society news, as well as railway timetables. The paper also often included poetry and updates on meetings of local social and cultural organizations, such as the Springfield Woman's Club. Customers read stories from surrounding cities in central Illinois such as Decatur, Peoria, Bloomington, and Champaign, as well as national news.

Scholars describe rising racial tensions in Springfield with the early growth of the city's African American population following the Civil War, considered to increase competition for limited employment opportunities. The September 5, 1908 issue of the Forum included coverage of the Springfield Riots of 1908, which began on August 14th and which some historians believe propelled the 1909 formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Articles in 1916 and 1917 note the beginnings of the Great Migration; a headline in the March 10, 1917 issue announced, "Tens of Thousands of Colored People Preparing to Leave the South in May" and, in the May 12, 1917 issue, "NEGRO LABOR EXODUS CAUSES CRISIS IN SOUTH."

After the February 10, 1917 edition, activist Zedekiah ("Z. W.") Mitchell (1867-1930) was named editor. Mitchell established the "Colored Social Center" in Springfield in 1918, providing inspiration for the founding of the Douglass Community Center, which "offered civic, social and educational opportunities to African-American residents of Springfield when most similar organizations were closed" to them ("Douglass Community Center," SangamonLink). Mitchell was also founder of the Loyal Legion Co-operative Educational Program, a program dedicated to educating both white and Black Americans about the importance of working together towards community improvement and "the uplift of the colored people of the city" (June 16, 1917). The February 10th issue contains an announcement of the change in editorship and the paper's new status as the official organ of the Loyal Legion Co-operative Educational Movement.

Provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL