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Amsterdam News

The history of Amsterdam News –
one of New York’s popular newspapers

Diverting away from the city of Amsterdam itself, we bring you more information about its name-related popular New York community newspaper - Amsterdam News. (Read more about New York in our New York articles section.)

The Amsterdam News is basically one of the leading newspapers in New York City. It was first established in December 4, 1909 by James H. Anderson, with an initial capital of $10. Since its first introduction, the Amsterdam News has been considered as one of the leading black weekly newspapers for most of the 20th century.

Newspaper of African American community

African-American community newspaper

Owing to its ideal location in the center of Harlem, the Amsterdam News was the primary talking head for one of the largest African-American communities in the United States. As a people’s mouthpiece, the Amsterdam News generally placed emphasis on covering the black community’s society news. Thus, included in its sections are weddings, engagements, births and charity events.

The Amsterdam News is very popular throughout the city of New York, with the highest circulation of more than 100,000. One particular memorable record in the history of the Amsterdam News is the year 1940s when this medium became one of the four leading black newspapers in the country, along with The Pittsburgh Courier, The Afro-American, and The Chicago Defender.

Named after the avenue where its founder lived

According to its early history, the Amsterdam News was named after the avenue in which the founder, James H. Anderson, lived – in the black community once known as San Juan Hill. It was also at this area where the first issues of the newspaper were formed, out of Anderson’s home at 132 West 65th Street. It was only in 1910 that the business offices were relocated. Also, during this early period, between 1910s to 20s, the Amsterdam News was wrote and edited by one of the renowned black journalists, T. Thomas Fortune.

In 1926, the wife of Edward Warren, one of the first publishers of the Amsterdam News purchased the paper. It was only in January 10, 1936 that the paper was resold to two West Indian physicians, who served respectively as editor-publisher and secretary-treasurer of the publication. Under their management, the now semi-weekly paper became the first African American newspaper to have all of its departments unionized. It was during this period in the history of the Amsterdam News that the paper started to focus on not only local, but also national events and issues as well. Many well-known personalities then contributed their works to the Amsterdam News, and it was Marvel Cooke, who became the paper’s first female new reporter.

Amsterdam News champions civil rights

Since its introduction, the Amsterdam News had championed a number of civil rights causes. As found out, the paper joined forces with other black papers during the Second World War to fight for civil rights in the armed forces. Then, in the 1950s and 60s, it was at the forefront in chronicling the events of the civil rights movement, like the well-known Montgomery Bus Boycott in Alabama, the Freedom Riders bus-burning incident, as well as a number of riots.

Malcolm X column publisher

The Amsterdam News started to pay attention on Malcolm X, and it was in the year 1958 that this paper began publishing one of its popular columns, the "God’s Angry Man". In 1971, the paper was bought for $2.3 million by a group of investors, which included Percy E. Sutton, a former Manhattan Borough President.

In 1983, Wilbert A. Tatum and several Harlem business associated purchased the paper, and they eventually began controlling interest. It was in December 1997 that the daughter of W.A Tatum named Eleanor Tatum was appointed to the position of publisher and editor in chief of the Amsterdam News. Their management continues up to the these days.

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