As a graduate student researching sensationalism in the early twentieth century Black Press, I discovered that the Baltimore Afro-American (AFRO) was one of the most sensational newspapers of the early 20th century. Dr. Hayward ‘Woody’ Farrar Jr.’s work The Baltimore Afro-American, 1892-1950 confirmed my observations. As the only full-length study of the paper, Dr. Farrar’s work quickly became one of several key books on the Black Press I would carry with me for the next three years as I completed my project. So, it was with great sadness that I learned that Dr. Farrar recently passed away at the age of 63.
While I never had the chance to meet Dr. Farrar, I was inspired by his work and commitment to ensuring that the legacy of black newspapers would not be forgotten. Unlike many other single newspaper studies which chronicle the life of a particular publisher or editor, Dr. Farrar chose to write a biography of the newspaper itself. In taking this approach, he helped students and researchers understand the power that the newspaper had on people’s lives across the nation. Just as importantly Dr. Farrar’s work illustrated the ways the AFRO’s success was a constellation of the efforts of many African Americans, both big and small.
Although Dr. Farrar is no longer with us in body, his spirit and legacy lives on in the work of today’s scholars of the Black Press.