We've been here for a very long time.
William Elijah Rock Publisher of The Echo 1904
Hi, my name is Karen Brittingham-Edmond, the great-granddaughter of Mr. William Elijah Rock, the publisher of The Echo—New Jersey's oldest Black-owned Newspaper.
Our family felt the need to relaunch the publication because The Red Bank Echo provided a platform where Black issues and concerns could be reported and debated on an even playing field locally & nationally.
The family newspaper was printed in "the interest of the Negro Race" circa 1904. The paper empowered communities of color with a platform to express their opinions and interests on local, national, and international current affairs.
The online relaunch of The Echo Saturday Evening Press will follow great-grandfather's original formula and mission statement: "The Echo at all times welcomes communication from the public on matters of racial interest, both legal, state, and national. Except in rare instances, communications should not exceed 300 words in length. To secure attention, they must be upon topics of general interest. The editor reserves the right to withhold from publication matter deemed unsuitable. All communications must bear the correct name and address of the writer though their names will not be printed if the writer expresses a wish to this effect."
With that being said, we welcome you to participate and be a part of history by being part of the re-birth of The Echo, NJ's oldest Black-owned Newspaper.
Looking forward to giving you the mic back!
History, not to be forgotten.
The Echo was established approx. Forty years post the abolition of slavery. Great-grandfather William Elijah Rock was also the editor of an additional Black-owned newspaper named The Mail Courier of 1890. His other newspaper, The Echo, was named after his Lenni-Lenape mother, Emma Schanck-Rock, per her original tribal name in Lenape translated to English.
Per The State Historical Society of Wisconsin's Who's Who of the Colored Race Volume One 1915, great-grandfather is listed right after Madame CJ Walker. “William Elijah Rock, editor, publisher; born at Pine Brook, NJ Jan 22, 1861; son of Peter and Emma (Schanck) Rock; (whose) grandfather came from Africa and settled in N.J., 1700; ed. Public schools, Pine Brook; private instruction under Prof. John R. Porter N.Y. 4 years; read law in the office of T.W. Throckmorton Red Bank NJ 8yrs; married Annie O. Bowles, of Red Bank, Feb 14, 1884.”
Per records, William Elijah Rock was the editor and proprietor of The Echo along with Howard since 1904. First established in Long Branch, NJ, and then relocated to Red Bank with the capital of $50. The plant (Rock Building in Red Bank) was valued at more than $3,000; in 1915, the homeowner was also clear of debt.
Great-grandfather was a Frederick Douglas Republican, Episcopalian, and member of the National Negro Press Assn., National Negro Business League, and Knights of Pythias. With Annie Bowles- Rock, he had three children Leroy (my grandfather—an electrician and Carnegie Hall violinist), Arnold (Editor of The Red Bank Echo), and Rose.
In his last years, Great-grandfather William Rock sought to obtain an additional law degree to rally a fight for reparations. He recognized that land encroachment of Black farmers in New Jersey plus the strategic blocking of Black thoroughbred trainers, jockeys, promoters, and other business vocations were designed to disenfranchise Black citizenship economically.
Reference: Who's Who of the Colored Race
Lest we forget, links to learn NJ's hidden history.
Racing for Freedom
Watch: Documentary on the rich and lasting heritage of Black jockeys at historic NJ tracks.
Entwined for Survival
Monmouth County's Native American People & Black Enslaved Population
Feel free to like the video and subscribe to the channel!
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Publisher/ Legacy Spearhead Director/Editor of the Relaunch of The Echo. Monmouth County Freedom Story Mini Doc Lead Consult/Concept Creator; SNHU Psychology Major; Sollers College Clinical Research Management Certified; Brookdale Community College A.S. Human Services; Non-profit Management Certified (ATEC); A.A. Public Relations.
Content manager and writer.