Edward E. Cooper, formerly with the Indianapolis World, launched the Freeman in 1888. He claimed it to be the only illustrated African American journal and poured large sums into making the Freeman, with its Democratic Party proclivities, the “Harper’s Weekly of the Colored Race.”

Invoice to Madam C. J. Walker for advertising space in The Freeman.
Invoice from The Freeman, Apr. 20, 1915 Credit: Madam C.J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

Financially strapped, he sold the paper in 1892 to George L. Knox. Under Knox, the paper supported the Republican Party, gave full play to Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee philosophy of accommodation, became known for its theater coverage, and professed to having the largest circulation of any Black paper in the United States. After World War I, inflation, competition from the more locally attuned Indianapolis Recorder, and the increased price doomed the Freeman, ceasing publication in 1926.

Revised February 2021

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