Timothy Thomas Fortune

Contributions and accomplishments of Timothy Thomas Fortune.

Born Oct. 3, 1856, Marianna, Fla., U.S. Died June 2, 1928, Philadelphia, PA
The leading black American journalist of the late 19th century.

T Thomas Fortune Bio

Born a slave in Marianna in 1856, Fortune was freed by proclamation in 1865. He was trained as a printer and traveled to New York where he was hired by the New York Sun in 1878 and later promoted to the editorial staff.

He became editor of The Globe, a Negro daily, and chief editorial writer for The Negro World. In 1883, Fortune founded The New York Age, which became the leading Negro journal of opinion in the United States.

A close friend and adviser to Booker T. Washington, Fortune is credited with having coined the term, ``Afro-American.'' In 1890, Fortune founded the Afro-American League, a forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.


T. Thomas Fortune was born a slave in Marianna, Florida, on October 3, 1856, and was freed by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. He attended Howard University from 1876 to 1877. From 1891 to 1907 he was the editor and co?owner of several influential New York?based black newspapers including The New York Globe, and The New York Freeman, the latter of which was renamed The New York Age in 1887. Fortune's tenure at The New York Age for over 20 years established him as the leading African American journalist of the late 19th and early 20th century. Under his editorial direction, the paper became the nation's most influential black paper, and was used to protest discrimination, lynching, mob violence, and disenfranchisement.  

In 1890 Fortune co?founded the Afro?American League. It was one of the earliest equal rights organizations in the United States and a precursor of the Niagara Falls Movement and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Fortune wrote intermittently for The Amsterdam News, and for The Norfolk Journal and Guide. He also served as an editor of Marcus Garvey's Negro World. He died on June 2, 1928.

T. Thomas Fortune House
94 West Bergen Place, Red Bank
Monmouth County, New Jersey

T Thomas Fortune House

Structures and sites which are considered to be of historic and aesthetic significance within Monmouth County.  The T. Thomas Fortune House listed in both the State Register of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Places.

The T. Thomas Fortune House, a second empire dwelling at 94 West Bergen Place, Red Bank, Monmouth County, New Jersey, was the home of a prominent black American journalist and civil rights advocate. T. Thomas Fortune promoted and defended the right of black Americans to have equal educational opportunities. A close friend of Booker T. Washington, the writing of T. Thomas Fortune was published in over twenty books and articles and in more than three hundred editorials. The T. Thomas Fortune House was listed in the State and National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and 1979 respectively. The building is a National Historic Landmark.

What Is Woman But A Song! - Timothy Thomas Fortune

Fortune, Timothy Thomas [1905], Dreams of Life: Miscellaneous Poems: By Timothy Thomas Fortune (New York: Fortune and Peterson, 1905.)


In submitting this collection of verse to the public I do not seek to gratify any personal vanity. During twenty years of active journalism in New York I have found it to be true that the successes we achieve in life, of whatever character, usually cost us so much in effort and anxiety that very little capacity for the enjoyment of the fruits of our labors is left us. I dare say this is a common experience. Very few men go to sleep unknown and wake up famous, as Byron did, while they are yet young; it more often happens that such good fortune comes after years of patient toil and waiting, and when the capacity to enjoy success is lacking. In our youth we are carried forward in every effort by an enthusiasm and a confidence which defy obstacles and laugh at criticism and judicious advice; in maturer age we are governed by a philosophy which comprehends in its calculation every obstacle, and invites rather than repels criticism and judicious advice. The confidence of youth is replaced by the skepticism of maturity. A piece of work which, at the age of twenty, we may regard as being well nigh perfect, is more than likely to be regarded as being very tame and commonplace and faulty at forty.

Of the accumulated mass of matter which I have com- posed for my own amusement and pastime during the past twenty-five years, I found by far the larger part more adapted to the grate than the public eye; and, perhaps, much that has been preserved and presented in this volume might more appropriately have been committed to the flames; because, after all is said and done, we are more partial to our own progeny, of whatever sort, than others can be, and blind to faults in it which become apparent to others upon the most superficial observation. And yet I have the satisfac- tion of having labored earnestly not to impose upon the reader any scrap of work the reading of which might be re- garded as a waste of time; the chief aim of all writing being either to instruct or amuse the reader.

That the scene of most of the poems in this volume should be laid in Florida is natural, as I was born in that State and love it above all others, and shall always do so, and as early impressions exercise a more lasting influence, for weal or woe, upon the mind than any other. However we will, the impressions made upon the mind between the years of childhood and manhood color all of our future thought and effort. The home where we were born, the persons whose lives touched our own, however remotely; the public square in which we played marbles or "shinny," the ponds in which we bathed in summer, the little streams in which we fished, the fields in which we set traps for birds, the dear little church, the stately court house and the sombre jail, and the village schoolhouse--the remembrance of these abides with us in the hurly-burly of after years, however far we wander from them and whatever other associations may enter into our lives and become a part therof.

The various history and romance of Florida appeal more strongly to her own children than to others, and will probably do so more in the future than in the past. The long struggle of Spaniard and Englishman and Frenchman and Indian, and the too little known "Exiles of Florida"--of whom Joshua R. Giddings wrote with so much eloquence and sympathy and pathos--make the whole State a veritable storehouse of priceless treasure to the literary antiquary.

Maple Hall,
Red Bank, N.J., June 1, 1905.

Poems by Timothy Thomas Fortune
Dreams of Life
The Wildwood Rose Will Grow
I Make My Bed of Roses
Come Away, Love,
Hear the Music of the Pines
Gentle Heart, Indulge Thy Dreaming
The Diamond in the Clay
Jessie and I
The Aspirations of the Soul
Love's Divinest Power
Sweetest Flower of the Wood
The Serpent
Slavery to the Slave
What Has Been Lost is Lost
Mary Conroy
Mutation's Voiceless Night
A Whisper Soft and Low
Love's Mystic Tide
Sadie Fontaine
We Know No More
Edgar Allan Poe
The Bird Has Vanished
A Homeless Spirit
What is Woman But a Song
Beyond the Veil
The Clime of My Birth
The Mocking Bird
A Legend of the Seminole Indians
In Token of the Love You Gave
We Must Grow Old
High Above the Wrecks of Ages
The Heart That is Pining
Every Man a King
Byron's Oak at Newstead Abbey
The Elsmeres
The Bride of Ellerslee
You Will Forget
A False Maiden
It Fell, the Giant Oak
The Towering Cliffs
Words of Love Forevermore
The Wild Waves Toss the Driftwood High
But That Was Long Ago
Tell Me, Ye Sad Winds
The Savage Dreamer

Books by and about T Thomas Fortune
Fortune, T. Thomas. Black and White: Land, Labor, and Politics in the South. Arno Press: 1968. Thornbrough, Emma Lou. T. Thomas Fortune: Militant Journalist, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972.
Franklin, John Hope and August Meier, editors. Black Leaders of the 20th Century. University of Illinois Press, 1981. Franklin, John Hope. From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1947.

Letter included in the George A. Myers Papers: 1890-1929. Several letters written in January 1901, by Thomas to Myers. One dated January 9, 1901, indicates that Fortune also manufactured cigars!



Mob law is the most forcible expression of an abnormal public opinion; it shows that society is rotten to the core; --------Timothy Thomas Fortune

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