Songs Without Words

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  • Tags: Indianapolis Freeman

Henry J. Lewis was born in slavery in Mississippi, sometime in the late 1830s (the exact year of his birth is unknown). He was severely burned as a child, which left him blind in one eye and crippled in his left hand. He lived much of his life in…

Moses L. Tucker was an engraver, illustrator and caricaturist from Atlanta, Georgia. Little is known of his history, but in the late 1880s and early 1890s, he produced a range of satirical cartoons for the Indianapolis Freeman. The editor, Edward E…

George L. Knox purchased the Indianapolis Freeman from Edward E. Cooper in 1892 and transformed the newspaper from a Democratic-leaning, independent paper into a loyal Republican Party press. Knox was well connected with the state party leadership,…

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…

In this image, the Indianapolis Freeman depicts Uncle Sam as a gravedigger, tending the failed legislation of generations. A headstone for the recently-defeated “Blair Education Bill,” which would have supplied federal funding for local…

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…
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