If you guessed Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, Phoenix, Miami, New York City or Santa Fe, you’re wrong!
The first Spanish-language newspaper was in — New Orleans, Louisiana. Hard to imagine that a place so identified with the French would be home to the first Spanish-language publication entitled El Misisipi.
El Misisipi was the first Spanish-language paper published in the United States.
In 1808, El MisisipÃ, the first Latino newspaper in the U.S., was founded in New Orleans. The newspaper served people from Spain and the Americas seeking refuge from Napoleon’s takeover of Spain. Similar newspapers soon appeared in Louisiana, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. In 1824 Philadelphia’s El Habanero was one of the first exile newspapers calling for Cuban independence. Through the 19th century political exiles such as FÃ©lix Varela and JosÃ© MartÃ used U.S. press freedoms to advocate independence for their countries and other Spanish colonies in the Americas.
This year, 2008, marks the 200-year anniversary of the Latino press. It’s a remarkable milestone that the national project, Voices for Justice, wants to make sure people don’t overlook.
Voices for Justice organizers plan a year-long national bicentennial campaign to honor all the pioneering Latino journalists and publishers who fought for the Latino voice to be included in the national dialogue via the press.
Plans are underway to create a documentary film with a companion book and an interactive website to promote awareness of the contributions of Latino print media pioneers. There is even a call for Latino communities across the country to commemorate the anniversary with their own celebrations.
From El Misisipi to Latina Lista, Latino/a publishers have come a long way and our voices are still evolving but the message is still the same — everyone deserves to be heard equally!