The Nation’s #1 Black Newspaper Celebrates 130 Years

CEO and Publisher Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper.

This month, The AFRO celebrates 130 years as the oldest Black-owned, family business in the state of Maryland and the third oldest in the country! It has also received Nielsen’s coveted designation as the Nation’s #1 Black Newspaper. Various dignitaries and community leaders will celebrate the historic accomplishments of The AFRO on Saturday, August 13 at Martin’s Crosswinds.

Founder John H. Murphy Sr., who was formerly an enslaved man and served in the Civil War – purchased the newspaper in 1892 with $200 borrowed from his wife. Originally named The Afro-American, the paper published articles that promoted unity, prosperity, and education in the Black community. It also played a significant role in exposing racial discrimination in education, housing, and employment in Baltimore.

Later renamed The AFRO, the paper is applauded for being the first newspaper to employ many notable Black journalists and intellectuals including Langston Hughes, William Worthy, and J. Saunders Redding. In fact, The AFRO is listed as the first employer on the curriculum vitae for U.S. Congressman Kweisi Mfume as well as the late U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings.

Today, The AFRO is still recognized as the authoritative news source on matters related to disparities in education, voting rights, equitable housing, health care, and justice for African Americans. Over the years, The AFRO has evolved from a print-only medium to amassing nearly one million readers and followers on and on its various social media platforms. It is now a multi-media juggernaut with weekly, high-profile, LIVE programming on social media while continuing to produce a weekly print edition, business expos and community town hall meetings, and more.

The AFRO is currently under the leadership of Mr. Murphy’s 4th generation granddaughter, CEO, and Publisher Dr. Frances “Toni” Draper.

About the Celebration


WHAT: A gala celebrating The AFRO’s 130th year attended by dignitaries, members of the founding family, and its many readers and supporters. The event will feature awe-inspiring video messages from CBS This Morning co-host, Gail King; Rainbow Coalition President and CEO, Jesse Jackson, Sr.; Senior Advisor to former President Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett; Civil Rights and Social Justice Activist Rev. Al Sharpton, Pres. NAN, MSNBC anchor; U.S. Congressman Kweisi Mfume, Anthony Brown, and others. Comedian Tommy Davidson will emcee and perform. Celebrity DJ Kid Capri will close out the event.

WHEN: Saturday, August 13 VIP Mixer @ 6:30 p.m. Gala @ 7:30 – 11:30 p.m.

WHERE: Martin’s Crosswinds | 7400 Greenway Center Drive | Greenbelt, MD 20770 Tickets available for purchase at Eventbrite/AFRO or

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