Maya Millett is an independent narrative nonfiction editor, writer, and producer. Formerly the senior book editor and animation producer at the oral history organization StoryCorps, she edited three StoryCorps anthologies and produced nearly twenty animated shorts, for which her team earned two Emmy award nominations, as well as Peabody and duPont-Columbia awards. Maya received an MA in journalism with a concentration in cultural reporting and criticism from New York University, and a BA in English with a minor in African and Black Diaspora studies at DePaul University in Chicago. (November 2019)

NYR DAILY

The Heroines of America’s Black Press

A collage of the art commissioned for this article; from top left, by Johnalynn Holland, Andrea Pippins, Erin Robinson, Elise R. Peterson, Adriana Bellet, and Xia Gordon

The African-American press of the nineteenth century was a lively, dynamic, insistently visible force for change. Crucial to many of these publications was the exceptional work of black women. These journalists were of the black elite and the working class, the free-born and the formerly enslaved. They were a mix of wives and mothers and widows, and women who never married at all. They were civic workers and religious leaders and educators—and many of them were active clubwomen. Together with the leading women thinkers, leaders, and activists of the race, they offered black women powerful tools to advocate for themselves—and gave us language, ideas, and strategies for political engagement that we are still influenced by today. And yet, their names are largely forgotten.