AMERICAN BAPTIST (LOUISVILLE)
The American Baptist was established in
1879, succeeding the Baptist Herald as the
official newspaper of the General Association of Kentucky Baptists. The Herald's founding editor, Rev. George W. Dupee, a
former slave and leader of the General Association of Colored Baptists, sold
the Paducah-based publication to William H. Steward, then-secretary of the
Association, and that same year the Baptist was established at Steward's
offices in Louisville.
Steward made significant contributions to the advancement of
African-Americans. Three years before establishing the Baptist, he became Louisville's first African-American
postman. The progressive editor was a vocal opponent of racial segregation and
in 1914 helped found the Louisville chapter of the NAACP. On a national level,
Steward served as president of the Afro-American Press Association. After over
50 years of service to the Baptist, Steward passed away in 1935.
Many influential African-Americans worked alongside Steward to produce the
Baptist. One such man was Kentuckian William
James Simmons, a leader in unifying African-American Baptists. Simmons
encouraged Baptists to organize nationally in one April 1886 edition of the
Baptist, and by August the American National Baptist Convention was formed with
Simmons as its president. The Convention would later join other organizations
to form the National Baptist Convention of the U.S.A., the second largest
Baptist organization in the world. With Simmons at the helm of both the
Convention and the Baptist, the paper was for some time the official organ of
Like Steward, Simmons was a very influential leader in the
African-American community, particularly in the area of education. State
University, formerly the Kentucky Normal and Theological Institute, in
Louisville, flourished under his leadership. With Simmons as president, the
Louisville school expanded to offer elementary, secondary, medicine, and law
programs. At its time, the university was the only Kentucky institution of
higher education controlled and established by African-Americans.
The Baptist's content focused on education
and religion. The paper reported on the news of various African-American or
Baptist schools such as State University, often referred to as "our
university". Baptist Bible schools, also known as New Era Institutes, which
trained ministers, reported their work in Kentucky cities such as Paducah,
Louisville, and Bowling Green.
The American Baptist is still in print
today in Louisville, Kentucky.