The Liberator was an early 20th-century newspaper that documented the emerging African American population in Los Angeles. Founded in 1900 by Jefferson Lewis Edmonds, a former slave who advocated for improved social and economic conditions for black men and women, the publication reported on local, national, and international news and provided a source of racial upliftment for over a decade. As The Liberator’s editor, Edmonds portrayed Los Angeles as a city of hope for African Americans, particularly compared to the violence and hardship they experienced in the South, and the paper contributed significantly to the city’s rapidly increasing black population. Yet Edmonds also used it as a vehicle to denounce injustices both locally and nationally.
The Liberator: Chronicling Black Los Angeles, 1900–1914 sheds light on the expansion of the city’s African American community, its challenges in a post-Reconstruction era, and its hopes and accomplishments, as captured in the newspaper’s pages. More than a century since The Liberator’s final issue, this exhibition includes rare ephemera, photographs, and artifacts that offer a unique study of the narrative of black Los Angeles.