ABOUT THIS PROJECT

The Black Lives Matter protests that drew millions to the streets over the last two years pushed many communities and businesses in the U.S. to reckon with their racist pasts. But one industry — with a few notable exceptions — has largely been silent.

Newspapers.

From the end of Reconstruction to 1940, newspapers were the most powerful news medium in America. Those run by white supremacist publishers and editors printed headlines and stories that fueled racial hate, inciting massacres and lynchings of Black citizens.

Inspired by Associate Professor DeNeen Brown’s reporting on the Tulsa Race Massacre, the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism recruited 31 journalism students from the University of Maryland, Hampton University, Howard University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University and North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. They spent the summer of 2021 digging deep into archives and interviewing descendants, experts and historians to document the power of white-owned newspapers to harm the Black community. They were joined in the fall by another 27 students from UMD and two students from the University of Arkansas.

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(Left image) Rachelle Keaton reads archived 19th century newspapers on microfilm in Danville, Virginia. (Center image) Torrence Banks visits Tallahassee Community Remembrance Project’s marker dedication ceremony in Cascades Park. (Right image) Molly Castle Work explores massacre site in Danville, Virginia, with source Deputy Police Chief Dean Hairston.

With guidance from four visiting professionals as well as faculty and staff from UMD and Arkansas, the reporters identified newspapers still in existence that published headlines, cartoons, stories and editorials that aided and abetted racial massacres and lynchings.

Their body of work comprises more than 30 stories, including the role of the Black press in providing a counter-narrative and the controversy around the use of photos and music to spread information about lynchings. They also analyzed data, shot photos, recorded audio, created a mini-documentary and static and motion graphics, designed a website and built a news application that will allow people to explore historical lynching coverage by approximately 100 newspapers that still exist in some form today.

Students examined newspapers published between 1865 and 1965, using computational journalism methods to extract information from digital archives that contained more than 5,000 newspapers.

The series contains graphic and disturbing descriptions of lynchings, as well as photos of lynching scenes and a cartoon containing a racist caricature of a Black man. One of the main missions of “Printing Hate” is to show readers today exactly what was provided to readers of yesterday.

The stories will be published on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the fall, wrapping up in mid-January.

The project was led by the Howard Center, which is part of the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. The mission of the multidisciplinary center is to teach the next generation of investigative journalists through hands-on projects. It is generously funded by a $3 million grant from the Scripps Howard Foundation and honors Roy W. Howard, one of the newspaper world’s pioneers. (Two of the newspapers featured in the series were previously owned by Scripps-Howard, which spun off its newspapers in 2015. )

Printing Hate also was made possible with a generous grant from the Park Foundation, which supports excellence in investigative and in-depth reporting.

CREDITS

Reporting and photography
University of Maryland: Anuoluwapo Adefiwitan, Joelle Anselmo, Aneurin Canham-Clyne, Brittany Nicole Gaddy, Victoria Ifatusin, Gabrielle Lewis, Kelly Livingston, Angela Mecca, Madison Peek, Vanessa Gabriela Sanchez, Shreya Vuttaluru, Molly Castle Work. Also Julia Arbutus, Christina Armeni, Adonijah Bourne, Molly Cuddy, Paulina Duque, Lindsay Garbacik, Emmett Gartner, Tatyana Monnay, Stephen Neukam, Khloe Quill, Eve Sampson, Nhaya Vaidya, Sara Wiatrak, Gabriel Pietrorazio

Hampton University: Nicole Pechacek, Mikayla Roberts, Jordan Sheppard

Howard University: Enoa Gibson, Airielle Lowe

Morehouse College: Torrence Banks

Morgan State University: Rachelle Keaton

North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University: Jamille Whitlow

University of Arkansas: Mary Hennigan, Abigail Vance

Data
University of Maryland: Nick McMillan, Kara Newhouse, Sahana Jayaraman, Jack Rasiel, Trisha Ahmed Hoque

Digital Design and Graphics
University of Maryland: Jenna Cohen, Emma Grazado, Rachel Logan, Nick McMillan, Molly Castle Work

Audience Engagement
University of Maryland: Victoria Daniels, Amanda Hernández, Katie Maher with Katie Benzan, Alexander Dacy, Sarah Dilworth, Taylor Dove, Casey Gannon, Alyssa Kraus, Reines Maliksi, Eunice Sung

Research

University of Maryland: Julia Arbutus, Rayonna Burton-Jernigan, Amanda Cash, Sydney Clark, Kellina Djanfa Wanteu, Laina Miller, Allison Mollenkamp, Nick McMillan, Kara Newhouse, Gabriel Pietrorazio, Khole Quill, Angela Roberts, Nhaya Vaidya, Kamisha Walker

Fact checkers  Sydney Clark, Callan Tansill-Suddath, Aadit Tambe

Original artwork  Clara Longo de Freitas

Editors
Visiting professionals: Milton Coleman, CeLillianne Green, Ron Harris, Deborah Heard, Diane Hawkins
UMD faculty and staff: Sandra Banisky, Kathy Best, DeNeen Brown, Tim Jacobsen, Marty Kaiser, Josh Land, Adam Marton, Sean Mussenden, Alexander Pyles
University of Arkansas faculty: Rob Wells

Logistical Support
Maria Lee, Howard Center program manager

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Special thanks to Kathy Roberts Forde, C.R. Gibbs and Hank Klibanoff for sharing their expertise for this project.

Forde is a professor and associate dean of equity and inclusion in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also the co-editor of the new book, “Journalism and Jim Crow: White Supremacy and the Black Struggle for a New America,” due out in November. She met with students twice, shared critical chapters with the project’s journalists and helped connect them to key sources.

Gibbs is a historian, author, and frequent lecturer and guest speaker at venues around the world. He provided historical perspective in a lecture to students and in interviews for “Printing Hate.” His most recent book is “Black, Copper, & Bright: The District of Columbia’s Black Civil War Regiment.” In 2009, the Congressional Black Caucus Veterans Braintrust honored Gibbs for his body of work on military heritage of Africans and African Americans.

Klibanoff won the Pulitzer Prize for “The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of the Nation,” a book he co-authored with former Philadelphia Inquirer editor and Merrill College Professor Emeritus Gene Roberts. As a former managing editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and current director of the journalism department of Emory University, Klibanoff provided students with invaluable perspective on the history of journalism in the South.

Additional acknowledgements:

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for use of historic front pages. The paper is owned by the Hussman family, who acquired the Arkansas Democrat in 1974 and the Arkansas Gazette assets in 1991.

Newspapers.com for use of their digitized front pages and articles.

The Arkansas State Archives for historic images.

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Central Arkansas Library System, for historic images.