Songs Without Words

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  • Tags: Edward E. Cooper

The Indianapolis Freeman was a weekly newspaper first published in 1888 by editor Edward E. Cooper. As the nation’s first illustrated African American newspaper, it was considered by the Indianapolis Journal to be the “best paper…

Edward E. Cooper was born in Florida in 1859. He founded short-lived Colored World in Indianapolis in 1878, which was later revived as the Indianapolis World. He founded the Indianapolis Freeman in July 1888 as a politically independent, national…

This drawing in the Indianapolis Freeman shows Uncle Sam standing impotently before a robed figure, Ethiopia, as she gestures toward the shooting of innocent African American men and women, and a burning church. “See how my people are murdered,…

During the winter of 1889–1890, the killing of prisoners by a white mob in Barnwell, South Carolina, and a “race war” in Georgia, prompted the Indianapolis Freeman to unleash a more pointed visual critique of so-called southern…

Indianapolis Freeman artists typically denounced racial discrimination and social inequality, and focused on presidential failures to stem racial violence. This frequently-repeated drawing, for example, showed an Atlas-like figure shouldering the…

When Frederick Douglass warned whites of the dangers of “reaping the whirlwind,” the Indianapolis Freeman recycled an oft-used drawing by the late political cartoonist, Henry J. Lewis, showing a sleeping African American Gulliver, a…

In its election-eve issue in 1892, perhaps to encourage the exodus that Ida B. Wells’s campaign had begun, the Indianapolis Freeman re-printed a drawing by the late political cartoonist, Henry J. Lewis. A series of frames reminded readers that…

On the eve of local elections in 1895, the Indianapolis Freeman printed a previously-published drawing by the late political cartoonist Henry J. Lewis, entited "A Song Without Words." The drawing used inserts within the larger frame to tell the story…
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