Jamon Jordan, City of Detroit Historian

This post was originally published on Michigan Chronicle

By Jamon Jordan
City of Detroit Historian 

The Michigan Chronicle, founded in 1936, is the longest surviving African American owned newspaper. But it is not the first. Many African American-owned newspapers have come and gone – The Michigan Citizen, the Detroit Tribune, and many others.

But all of these newspapers, including The Chronicle, owe a debt to Detroit’s first African American newspaper – the Detroit Plaindealer.

The Plaindealer, founded in 1883, was established by four prominent Black men – Benjamin & Robert Pelham Jr., William H. Anderson and Walter Stowers. The newspaper published for a decade, and like many abolitionist newspapers of the mid-1800s, did not merely report on the day’s affairs, but advocated on behalf of the Black community.  

The newspaper’s office was located downtown at the corner of Shelby and State streets. Today, that corner is occupied by the Book-Cadillac Hotel. There is a historical marker on the side of the hotel where the Plaindealer’s office was located.  

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