Shaun King and Benjamin Dixon are Rebuilding the North Star
Frederick Douglass and Martin Delaney
On December 3, 1847, Frederick Douglass and Martin Delaney launched the abolitionist newspaper called The North Star to combat racial oppression, slavery and fight for the rights of women and other groups targeted by white supremacy.
Both Martin Delaney and Frederick Douglass toured the country sharing their experiences of when they were in bondage. Delaney used this time to gain support for the North Star newspaper. During that era, much like today, stories about black people weren’t honest and there was much left unsaid in white-owned news outlets. Even moreso then than now. While Black people have more of a voice today than during the time of slavery, we still see media organizations hold back in their coverage of stories that impact Blacks lives.
This is why Black-owned, people-funded news is so important. It is independent and radical when it wants to be. Most importantly, there is a void that needs to be filled. Back in March, I wrote an article titled Why Independent Black Media Is Essential (and Disruptive). It briefly went over historic black newspapers and why independent black media is disruptive. The keyword here is independent, meaning not controlled by big donors and wealthy interests who may want to avoid certain narratives.
Rebuilding the North Star
Earlier this month on November 1st, journalist and activist Shaun King and Benjamin Dixon of The Progressive Army announced that they’d be relaunching the abolitionist newspaper for a new generation in a new era. This came with the blessing of the Douglass family.
BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: 171 years after Frederick Douglass started The North Star, @BenjaminPDixon and I, with the permission & blessing from the family of Frederick Douglass, are rebuilding it for this generation.— Shaun King (@shaunking) November 1, 2018
Click to read my full announcement here.https://t.co/8ru9rkKYZx
In the future, I’m going to spend some time writing about the legacies of both Douglass and Delaney in more detail. Two men who fought for the freedom of Black people, but had different perspectives on how to achieve said freedom.
In many ways The North Star, alongside the myriad of co-existing Black newspapers of the time (most of which are now defunct), was the beginning of the Black radical tradition in written form in America. This is a legacy that should be remembered and brought back. It’s not to say that there aren’t outlets right now that do something similar to what Shaun King and Benjamin Dixon are doing. However, I’d say why stop with what’s already there? Why not push the envelope even further and more unapologetically?
I support this project for a number of reasons -
We need more diverse voices in progressive alternative media. Many people have written articles and shared their experiences of what it’s like being a Black face in a White space. About how we are brought in to explain the black experience to white audiences, but at arms length. The new North Star will help solve that problem by allowing voices to be heard from people you’d never see on white progressive media platforms.
More progressive media is always good. We are inundated daily with right-wing propaganda that is heavily-funded and for all intents and purposes - they are winning the information war. Shaun King and Benjamin Dixon bring much needed traffic to the other side of the debate. I believe they have a great vision that needs support.
The North Star is just an iconic name and draws power from one of the most important legacies in African-American history - and American history in general. That is the legacy of the anti-slavery movement. How can I NOT support that?
You should support this project because -
Your news media should be free to say what needs to be said without any strings attached. Yes, as I said before, it’s not to say that doesn’t exist in other forms. However, how many well-funded, independent, black-owned news outlets can you point to that have a strong progressive message? There are outlets that have a couple elements, but not all four.
Truly disruptive media is going to have to be people-powered and organized from the ground up among the masses. You should not want big money gatekeepers deciding what gets written and what doesn’t. That’s part of the problem now.
The two men behind the relaunching of The North Star, Shaun King and Benjamin Dixon, are truly committed to this. However, they can’t do it alone by themselves. So far, social media has shown support with over 120,000 people signing up for the email list and currently (as of the writing of this article) over 5,000 people joining the project as paying members. This is how the North Star will rise again, by regular people like you and me.
Go to the launch site here and join. Become a member and help the cause, because we can’t wait for others to tell our story. We have to do it ourselves.