The Liberator is an early 20th-century Los Angeles African American newspaper, whose owner and editor, Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, was born enslaved and spent twenty years in bondage before Emancipation. Edmonds was educated in Mississippi Freedmen's Bureau schools and served two terms in the Mississippi State Assembly before moving to Los Angeles after the end of Reconstruction due to threats against his family.
Edmonds established The Liberator in Los Angeles in 1900 and was an early booster of Los Angeles as a destination for African American migration. While speaking out against racism and injustice in Los Angeles, he also touted the city as a haven compared to the South's discrimination and violence.
The library has partnered with Jefferson Edmonds's descendants, Paul and Arianne Edmonds, who loaned their family collection to be digitized through the California Revealed Digitization Program, to make publicly available as many issues of this influential publication as possible. Digitization work will begin in early 2018. We spoke to Arianne Edmonds and librarian Amanda Charles about their work to make sure Jefferson and The Liberator are not forgotten. Watch below to learn more:
- Seeking El Dorado: African Americans in California (Chapter titled "The Greatest State for the Negro: Jefferson L. Edmonds, Black Propagandist of the California Dream," by Lonnie Bunch)
- California Progressivism Revisited (Chapter titled "African Americans and the Politics of Race in Progressive-Era Los Angeles," by Douglas Flamming
- Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America by Douglas Flamming