3022605The Afro-American Press and Its EditorsIrvine Garland Penn
By I. Garland Penn,
PRINCIPAL IN LYNCHBURG, VA., SCHOOLS, AND EX-EDITOR LYNCHBURG, VA., LABORER, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS BY
Hon. Frederick Douglass, Hon. John R. Lynch, Hon. J. T. Settle, Hon. D. A. Straker, Hon. Jere A. Brown, Hon. T. Thomas Fortune, Hon John Mercer
Langston, Hon. P. B. S. Pinchback, Prof. W. S. Scarborough, Prof.
J. H. Lawson, Prof. Booker T. Washington, Prof. George E.
Stephens, Prof. Frank Trigg, Bishop B. W. Arnett,
D. D., Rev. J. C. Price, D. D., Rev. T. G. Stewart,
D. D.. Rev. A A Burleigh, Rev. L. J.
Coppin, D. D., James T Still, M. D.,
William H. Johnson, M D ,
and Mrs N. F. Mossell.
Souls dwell in printer's type.—Joseph Ames.
Ink is the blood of the printing Press.—Milton.
Hostile newspapers are more to be feared than bayonets.—Napoleon.
I am myself a gentleman of the press and need no other escutcheon.—Beaconsfield.
In the long fierce struggle for freedom the press, like the church,
counted its martyrs by thousands.—President Garfield.
Entered according to Act of Congress in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington, D. C., in the
Years 1890 and 1891, by I. Garland Penn.
All rights reserved.
Sold only by subscription.
CLARK W BRYAN & CO., PRINTERS. SPRINGFIELD, MASS
CHARLES VAN VLACK, ELECTROTYPER.
THE UNCONQUERABLE HOST OF
WHO ARE LAYING THEIR SACRIFICES
UPON THE EDITORIAL ALTAR
FOR THEIR RACE,
THIS VOLUME IS RESPECTFULLY
"We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial;
We should count time by heart throbs; he most lives
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best."
Having been requested by Mr. Penn to write a brief introduction to his book, I cheerfully consented to do so from several considerations. In the first place, I admire the manly energy, venture, and intellectual power displayed by him in undertaking to chronicle facts concerning Colored American journalism. Then again, I heartily love to encourage intellectual and moral efforts of young Colored American men and women. For the last ten years, I have endeavored to do this as a teacher, associate, and friend. Suidas relates that Thucydides, when a boy, listened with delight to Herodotus as he recited publicly his famous history at the great Olympic festival, and that he was so deeply moved that he shed tears. Thucydides was so inspired by the occasion that he finally became a more distinguished historian than Herodotus himself. It is possible that a perusal of this unpretentious sketch may so energize and inspire some boy or girl, young man or woman, that he or she will determine to perform for the race a greater service than Mr. Penn has rendered.
I. HIS BIRTH AND EARLY TRAINING.
Irvine Garland Penn was born in the year 1867, in New Glasgow, a small village in Amherst County. Virginia. His father and mother, Isham Penn and Mariah Penn, were fully aware of the superior advantages of a public school training to their children, and moved to the city of Lynchburg when Irvine was five years old. He passed with success through the primary and grammar grades of the schools, and in 1882 entered the junior class of the high school. Circumstances, over which he had no control, prevented him from attending school during the succeeding school year, and, in consequence, he taught a school in Bedford County, Virginia. After teaching for one school year, he decided to re-enter the high school, from which he graduated in 1886. Before he graduated, he accepted a position on the editorial staff of The Lynchburg Laborer.
II. AS AN EDUCATOR.
The subject of our sketch has had almost five years experience as a teacher, and has successfully managed county and city schools During 1883-4, ne taught with credit to himself, and satisfaction to his superintendent and patrons, a school in Bedford County, Virginia. During the school year 1886-7, he superintended a school in Amherst County, Virginia. In 1887 he was elected as a teacher in the public schools of Lynchburg, and, in a short time, arose to the position of principal. Though he is young, his executive ability enables him to discharge well the duties of his responsible post.
Mr. Penn seeks to inform himself on the principles and methods of education. He aims to keep abreast of the times by purchasing and studying the works of leading writers on educational methods. He is in deep sympathy with The New Education, which has so materially changed in the last eight years our educational modes and systems. Nor is he insensible to the merits and excellencies of leading Colored American educators, but aims to learn from all that he may make his own school the more excellent. He has attended several institutes for teachers, and exhibited earnestness and industry in class recitations. As an educator, he takes as his motto—"Labor et perseverentia omnia vincunt." (Labor and persevarence conquer all things.)
III. AS AN EDITOR AND WRITER.
The subject of our sketch accepted a position upon the editorial staff of The Lynchburg Laborer before his graduation. In 1886 Messrs. Penn and Johnson purchased it, and Mr. Penn took control of the editorial department. The paper was not properly supported, and its publication was suspended. As editor of this paper, Mr. Penn proved himself a skilled and forcible writer. Though he was only about twenty years of age, he evinced a good acquaintance with practical life and the needs of the race. He freely and frequently discussed questions relating to the material, intellectual, moral, and religious welfare of his people and state. The unusual ability displayed by this youthful editor won for him laudable encomiums, even from several white editors in Virginia. The Spirit of the Valley, edited by D. Sheffey Lewis, said: "We have received The Lynchburg Virginia Laborer, edited by I. Garland Penn. It is edited with dignity and ability. The Lynchburg Daily Advance gave this testimony: "We most cheerfully commend The Lynchburg Virginia Laborer to all the sons of toil."
Our subject ardently loves newspaper work. He was once a pleasing and trenchant writer for The Richmond Planet and The Virginia Lancet. He is at present a correspondent for The Knoxville Negro World and The New York Age. He seems to observe closely, and he expresses his ideas with great clearness and strength. No one needs to read a sentence of Addison or Washington Irving twice to understand it. This may with truth be said of the young man whose life we are now considering.
IV. AS A SPEAKER.
Mr. Penn is an easy, fluent speaker. Though he has on several occasions been requested to make political speeches in the Old Dominion, he prefers to confine his speech-making to educational subjects. He has frequently delivered discourses to Sunday-Schools, and has been, in several instances, invited to speak on prominent public occasions. At the annual conference of the Colored M. E. Church which met in Charlottesville in July, 1889, Mr. Penn delivered a convincing address, advocating the establishment of a Theological and Normal School within Virginia.
V. HIS REPUTATION.
It may be readily affirmed from what has been said, that Mr. Penn is one of the few young men of our state who enjoys national recognition. He has on several occasions been honored by some of our leading men. On March 16, 1889, a fine cut and well-written sketch of him appeared in The Freeman of Indianapolis. Creditable sketches of him have also adorned the brilliant columns of The Cleveland Gazette and The Negro World of Knoxville. His publication of his intention to write a history of Colored American journalism has brought him into closer contact with the foremost men of our race, and caused him to receive numerous complimentary notices.
He has been repeatedly honored, too, by the people of his own state. He was twice appointed commissioner at Lynchburg for the Petersburg Industrial Association. He is Recording Steward of the Jackson Street M. E. Church and Superintendent of the Sunday-School. The business tact of our subject was fully recognized in his election as Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Lynchburg Real Estate Loan and Trust Company.
Mr. Penn is a member of the Colored M. E. Church, and a man of good moral character. He respects himself, and is respected by his friends and acquaintances.
VI. HIS PRESENT WORK.
The work for which this introduction is prepared will be of no little benefit to the race. It will serve as a cyclopaedia of information on a power which has exerted an untold influence on our progress. "Afro-American Journalism and its editors" must of necessity cover a broad field. Its conception is grand, and the labor and culture essential to its accomplishment are great and varied. It may be thought by some that Mr. Penn is too young for the undertaking. The fallacy of such an idea is apparent from the fact, that the world's literature is greatly indebted to young men and women.
Thomas Sackville wrote, at the age of twenty-three, "A Mirror for Magistrates," and "Rare Ben Johnson," at the same age, produced "Every Man in his Humor." "The Fall of Robespierre" was finished by Samuel Taylor Coleridge before he was twenty-two, and "Hours of Idleness" was completed by Lord Byron, at the age of twenty. Amelie Rives conceived and brought forth "The Quick and the Dead," before she was twenty-one, and Phillis Wheatley issued a volume of poems before she was twenty. "Pleasures of Hope," "Essay on Criticism," "As a Man and Not a Man," were produced, respectively, by Thomas Campbell, Alexander Pope, and A. A. Whitman, when each was about twenty. How remarkable it is that Euripides penned a laudable tragedy and William Cullen Bryant wrote "Thanatopsis," when they were each eighteen; that Aristophanes, at the age of seventeen, exhibited his first comedy; and that Robert Burns and Hannah More produced, respectively, "Handsome Nell" and "The Search after Happiness," when each was about sixteen. And what shall we say of that wonderful instance of precocious mentality, Thomas Chatterton, who, at the age of eleven, wrote excellent verses, and who, before he was eighteen, successfully forged descriptions, names, and poems from the antiquated coffer of Canynge, in the church at Bristol?
An investigation of Colored American literature reveals the fact, that most of our literature was produced before our authors were thirty-five years of age. This is certainly true of the works of B. T. Tanner; W. S. Scarborough; R. C. O. Benjamin; Phillis Wheatley; A. A. Whitman; T. T. Fortune; E. A. Randolph; J. J. Coles; C. W. B. Gordon; and others whom I might mention. It may not be inappropriate for me to state, at this juncture, that "The Negro Race, a Pioneer in Civilization," was penned when I was almost twenty-two; "The Life and Times of Paul," at twenty-four; "Science, Art, and Methods of Teaching," at twenty-six; and "Freedom and Progress" is now ready for press.
In the light of these historic facts, let no one think or say that Mr. Penn is too young and inexperienced for the compilation of his valuable work. Let us be thankful that among us are young men and women who are able to think and pen thoughts worthy of themselves and race. Let us encourage, by word and deed, every intellectual and moral effort put forth by our young men and women for the enlightenment and advancement of our people.
This grand work should illumine with its light every home of our beloved state, and every fireside of the Colored Americans of our country. Its many principles and precepts; its record of struggles and conflicts, born of contending forces; its narration of the lives and deeds of energetic, intelligent men and women are well calculated to impart useful knowledge, beget lofty aspirations, and direct the life to high, manly, womanly achievements. Its every sentence is pregnant with wholesome instruction, and its every page admonishes us to exert our best endeavors to prevent and allay racial antagonism and estrangement, and to labor for the time when white and colored citizens alike will vie with each other in making Virginia the foremost state in the Nation.
Daniel B. Williams.
Professor of Ancient Languages, and Instructor in Methods of Teaching in the V. N. & C. I., Ettrick P. O., Va., November 7, 1889.
In preparing this work on the Afro-American Press, I am not unmindful of the fact, that while I pursue somewhat of a beaten road I deal with a work which has proven a power in the promotion of truth, justice and equal rights for an oppressed people. The reader cannot fail to recognize some achievement won by that people, the measure of whose rights is yet being questioned, and will readily see that the social, moral, political and educational ills of the Afro-American have been fittingly championed by these Afro-American journals and their editors. Certainly, the importance and magnitude of the work done by the Afro-American Press, the scope of its influence, and the beneficent results accruing from its labors, cannot fail of appreciation.
In seeking the information contained in this volume, great pains have been taken, and expense incurred to insure its truth and accuracy. The aid of those of experienced years, of both races, has been secured. The information has been carefully given and the facts culled and put together with the utmost care and thought.
Believing that credit is at all times due those who merit it, I am pleased to announce the names of some friends to whom I shall be ever grateful, and for whose kindness I shall always be ready to say words expressive of my thankfulness:
Mr. Jno. J. Zuille, an Afro-American printer of abolition times; P. W. Ray, M. D.; Prof. R. T. Greener; Miss Florence Ray; Mr. Robert H. Hamilton; Editors: A. M. Hodges, T. Thos. Fortune; R. H. Hamilton; Dr. Alex. Crummell; Hon. Frederick Douglass; Dr. William H. Johnson; Mr. John H. Deyo; Prof. Joseph E. Jones, D. D.; Bishop Benj. W. Arnett; Hon. J.J. Spellman, and others. These gentlemen and ladies I greatly thank for the loan of books, papers, periodicals, and for their kindness for gratuitous information. I also remember the aid of Hon. E. E. Cooper, editor of The Freeman, for the loan of some cuts, and the New South, at Beaufort, S. C., and other papers, for gratuitous editorial mention. Above all, I can not forget the aid of friendly interest as well as the great honor my distinguished friend and brother, Prof. D. B. Williams, A. M., of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute does me in the association of his name with this poor effort. As the reader will note, Prof. Williams has written the introductory sketch, for which I am under great obligations to him.
The object in putting forth this feeble effort is not for the praise of men or for the reaping of money, but to promote the future welfare of Afro-American journalism by telling to its constituents the story of its heroic labors in their behalf. As I have said in my circular to editors, January 1st, 1890, so say I now: "I believe that the greatest reason why our papers are not better supported is because the Afro-Americans do not sufficiently comprehend the responsibilities and magnitude of the work."
If the eyes of my people shall be opened to see the Afro-American Press as it is, and as it labors with the greatest sacrifice, I shall feel that Providence has blessed my work and that I have been amply rewarded. This volume may find its way to the cottage of the lowly and humble, the home of the scholar and the hands of the critic. I would invite its earnest perusal by each and all, and, at the same time, pray your most lenient criticism of its make-up, construction and thought. I would ask you to speak a good word for it, not in the hope of placing honor upon my head or the dime in my pocket, but in the hope of forming a favorable sentiment and creating an able and constant support for the Afro-American editor whose labor unites with all in building up and furthering the interest of our common country.
Lynchburg, Va., 1890.
P. S. To the hundreds of men and women laboring in journalism, the author owes an apology for not making personal mention of all of our papers now published, and their editors; also, the numerous correspondents and great phalanx of our brave and ambitious women who have espoused the cause. Many of you are able and efficient, and all of you deserve particular mention, but you will agree that it would take ten volumes, yea, more, to make satisfactory personal mention in this work of the many laboring for the race and for humanity.
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.
The author died in 1930, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.