Journalist and businessman Claude A. Barnett transformed his love for reading into a thriving news wire service for African-Americans, which was the first of its kind. For nearly five decades, the Associated Negro Press informed and enlightened the African-American public and beyond.
Claude Albert Barnett was born September 15, 1889 in Sanford, Fla., and primarily raised in the Chicago, Ill. Area. He entered the Tuskegee Institute in 1904 as an engineering student, and emerged with his diploma in just two years. Barnett returned to Chicago to work as a postman, and in 1913 began marketing images of prominent African-Americans to Black newspapers before turning it into a thriving mail-order business in 1917.
With the success of the business and his booming Kashmir Chemical Company, a cosmetics firm, Barnett bankrolled his appetite for the news into creating the Associated Negro Press. In its initial stages, the ANP pulled news headlines from other Black papers of the day but as it grew in size, Barnett was able to hiring a staff of freelance journalists from around the nation. At its heights in the early ’50’s, the ANP’s articles reached some 200 papers nationwide and around the world. His wife, Etta Moten-Barnett, became the first Black woman to sing inside the White House in 1934.
Into the ’60’s, the ANP remained a viable news resource in the Black community but Barnett suddenly died at the age of 70 in 1967, thus stopping operation of the ANP. In some circles, Barnett is considered the “Father of the Negro Press.”
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