New York’s Amsterdam News is one of the most influential Black-owned media properties in the world. The paper is celebrating its 105th year in existence this month, and still remains a vital outlet for the Black community in Harlem and abroad.
The paper’s founder, James H. Anderson, first published the Amsterdam News on December 4, 1909. Anderson put out the first papers using six sheets of paper, a lead pencil, a dressmaker’s table and just $10 in his pocket. Selling the papers for two cents out of his Manhattan home, the paper became an early success.
Considering the rise of Black Nationalism at the time, the paper served as a canvas for the thoughts of great leaders such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., and Roy Wilkins among others. The paper was named after the avenue that Anderson lived, but it was moved to Harlem shortly after. Black journalists such as T. Thomas Fortune wrote for and edited the paper.
In 1926, publisher Edward Warren’s wife, Sadie, bought the paper. After some struggles, the paper was taken over by Dr. Cielan B. Powell and Dr. Phillip M.H. Savory of the Powell Savory Corporation. Dr. Powell served as the publisher at the time. The Amsterdam News became a national force under Powell’s leadership, reporting on news in the Black community and beyond.
Malcolm X once wrote a column for The News. The column, “God’s Angry Man,” was a widely read portion of the paper. Along with the aforementioned leaders, The Amsterdam News served as a place where politicians such as Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel and former NAACP president Ben Jealous could offer their opinions.
In July of 1996, Wilbert A. Tatum become the sole owner of the paper. In 1997, Tatum stepped down and gave the company to his daughter Elinor R. Tatum, who was 26 at the time. Ms. Tatum serves as the paper’s publisher and editor-in-chief today.