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Kathy Roberts Forde and Sid Bedingfield

Feb 24, 2022

Journalism and Jim Crow

White Supremacy and the Black Struggle for a New America

University of Illinois Press 2021

White publishers and editors used their newspapers to build, nurture, and protect white supremacy across the South in the decades after the Civil War. At the same time, a vibrant Black press fought to disrupt these efforts and force the United States to live up to its democratic ideals. Journalism and Jim Crow: White Supremacy and the Black Struggle for a New America (U Illinois Press, 2021) centers the press as a crucial political actor shaping the rise of the Jim Crow South. 

In this interview with co-editor Kathy Roberts Forde, we explore the leading role of the white press in constructing an anti-democratic society by promoting and supporting not only lynching and convict labor but also coordinated campaigns of violence and fraud that disenfranchised Black voters. We also examine the Black press's parallel fight for a multiracial democracy of equality, justice, and opportunity for all — a losing battle with consequences that continue to impact newsrooms today. 

Learn more about the book and find resources for educators and newsrooms at journalismandjimcrow.com.

Kathy Roberts Forde is an American journalism historian with research interests in democracy and the public sphere, the Black freedom struggle and the press, the First Amendment, literary journalism, and the history of the book and print culture. She is the Associate Dean of Equity & Inclusion in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. She served as Chair of UMass Journalism from 2014-2017; she is past chair of the AEJMC History Division and past associate editor of American Journalism.

Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State's Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. She's also the communications specialist for the university's McCourtney Institute for Democracy, where she hosts and produces the Democracy Works podcast.

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Jenna Spinelle

Jenna Spinelle is a journalism instructor at Penn State's Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications. She's also the communications specialist for the university's McCourtney Institute for Democracy, where she hosts and produces the Democracy Works podcast.

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