Thomas Fortune was the preeminent black jourrnalist of his age, and also the first to popularize the term "Afro-American." More than semantics are at stake with such an appellation. In conciving of black Americans as both intimately tied to Africa and yet essential to america, Fourtune was expressingsomething that, while commonly accepted today, ran counter to both the .
back to africa movements of Marcus Garvey and othersand to the ambiguity of origin implied by such terms as "Negro" an"Colord.".
"As an American citizen," he wrote in Black and White (1884), "I feel it born in my nature to share in the fullest measure all that is american, feeling the full force of the fact that while we are classed as Africans, just as the Germans are classed, we are in all things American citizens, American .
freemen." Fortune was the leading black editor and journalist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. while often eclipsed in historical memory by the mythic duality of W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. washington, he is essential to a full understanding of black leadership after recon.
struction.He grappled , above all, with the funddamental question of what it meant for a black American to be an American citizen.He presages the words of Ralph Ellison almost a half century after Fourtune's death that "whatever else the true American is, he is also somehow black." .
Timmothy Thomas Fourtune was born a slave in Marianna, Florida, in 1856. In the years after Emancipation, Fortune was exposed to the violence of racial animus. Jackson County, his birthplace, was notorious as the site of many of the Ku Klux Klan's most brutal attacks. Fortune's father was .
an outspoken advocate for racial equality, and presures from theKlan forced him to relocate his family to Jacksonville.