The New Orleans Tribune: America’s First Black Daily Newspaper

The New Orleans Tribune, or la Tribune de la Nouvelle Orléans, was America’s first black daily newspaper. Created by free black leaders, the Tribune was a formidable political tool that built a courageous campaign for social justice during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. The paper’s primary mission, the right for all black men to vote, resonated throughout the nation and demanded Lincoln’s attention. The Tribune agenda included redistribution of plantation land to the emancipated, streetcar desegregation, the creation of integrated public schools, equal accommodations in public facilities, equitable legislative representation, and full legal rights. The journal swiftly built a reputation as the leading voice of the black community and was widely respected as a force in Louisiana politics and beyond.

The Tribune tirelessly attacked any notion of black inferiority, serving as a counter-narrative to an overwhelmingly prejudiced white press and public. Turning those lies around, the journal projected a positive image of black manhood and womanhood, giving voice and agency to all of the African descent.

Free black men had created one of the most radical and influential newspapers of its time, resulting in a greatly expanded sphere of power and influence for all of African descent. Their project, articulated in print and manifested in social protest, anticipated events 100 years later and forged the first coherent civil rights movement in the American South.

Mechanics' Institute Massacre

On July 30, 1866, black Republicans attempted to reconvene the Louisiana constitutional convention in an effort to secure voting rights. Held at the Mechanics' Institute, a large crowd of black spectators was present as well. The gathering was…

Tomb of Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez

Faubourg Tremé is home to the oldest existing cemetery in the City of New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez, founder of the New Orleans Tribune, America’s first black daily newspaper, is entombed in the Roudanez family…

Tombs of Jean Baptiste Roudanez and his mother Aimée Potens

Jean Baptiste Roudanez, publisher of L’Union, the South’s first black newspaper, and the New Orleans Tribune, America’s first black daily newspaper, is entombed alongside his mother Aimée Potens, a free woman of color, in Square 3 of St. Louis…

Residence of Jean Baptiste Roudanez

Jean Baptiste Roudanez (1815-1895), a free man of color, served as publisher of L’Union, the South’s first black newspaper, and the New Orleans Tribune, America’s first black daily newspaper. Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez, the Tribune’s founder, was…

Economy Hall

Soon after Union forces seized New Orleans from the Confederacy in 1862, calls for equality reverberated among free people of color. Hundreds assembled at frequent mass meetings and rallies at Economy Hall in the heart of Faubourg Tremé. There,…

Aimée Potens Residence

Aimée Potens was the mother of Louis Charles and Jean Baptiste Roudanez, the founder and publisher of  L’Union, the South’s first black newspaper, and the New Orleans Tribune, America’s first black daily newspaper. She was born to an enslaved woman…
This tour is based on Mark Charles Roudané’s most recent book “The New Orleans Tribune: An Introduction to America’s First Black Daily Newspaper.” To learn more about Roudané’s work, visit his official website (roudanez.com) and Facebook page (facebook.com/roudanezhistory).