History

The St. Louis American – A Local Institution

History

The only local African-American newspaper continuously published since 1928, and the longest continuously published weekly newspaper in the St. Louis area, The St. Louis American newspaper has emerged as the single largest weekly newspaper in the entire state of Missouri.

The St. Louis American was founded by Judge Nathan B. Young and several African-American businessmen, including Homer G. Phillips.  At the time, the American was an eight page “paid” tabloid, with a circulation of just over 2,000.  In came Nathaniel Sweets less than a year later. Sweets helped keep the American alive for more than 45 years as an owner/publisher.  Throughout the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, the American continued to gain respect and readership, through its venerable editor Bennie G. Rodgers, who worked for the paper for more than 50 years, and is still known as the “dean of black journalism in St. Louis.”

Current publisher Donald M. Suggs took the reigns of The St. Louis American in the early 1980s.  When Suggs took over the newspaper, it had a circulation of approximately 4,400. His first major change:  the paper had to move from being a limited circulation paid newspaper to a widely-circulated free weekly newspaper to effectively and efficiently reach the rapidly growing (and more broadly dispersing) African-American population in the St. Louis area. 

Today

The St. Louis American is now a nationally-recognized, multi-platform media entity, with a highly-read print newspaper, a heavily-viewed website (featuring components such as video, social networking and viewer interaction), a consistent presence on local radio and television, as well as being a convener of local touch events in the community.

The St. Louis American now distributes 70,200 print copies every Thursday, making it the single largest weekly newspaper in the entire state of Missouri. The American is distributed at more than 845 locations throughout St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, and portions of Illinois.

In the past three years alone, The St. Louis American has garnered more than 100 local, regional, and national awards for excellence in journalism, design, and commitment to the community, including being named 'Newspaper of the Year' by the Local Media Association in 2015. The American has been named the ‘#1 African-American Newspaper in the Nation’ 12 times in recent years by the National Newspaper Publishers’ Association, including five straight years from 2012-16, and is a five-time recipient of Missouri Press Association’s first place award for General Excellence, as well as being named a Missouri GOLD MEDAL newspaper in 2014 and 2013. Our Publisher, Donald M. Suggs was named 'Publisher of the Year' by the NNPA in 2016.

A niche publication targeted to African Americans, yet more and more reaching a mixed audience, The St. Louis American provides its diverse readership with information that is important and relevant to them. Whether it’s hard news, religion news, entertainment, sports, or profiles of successful local African Americans, the American provides a unique, well-respected vehicle, unmatched in the Midwest, that gives African Americans a credible voice.  A hyper-local media entity, we make sure our readers see themselves and read their stories in the American every week.

In 1929, Nathaniel Sweets’ vision of The St. Louis American was “to give a voice to the African-American community that was lacking, and bring them information they could use. The St. Louis American should carry news tailored to the African-American community and anybody who wants to know about it.”

Sweets’ vision still holds true in today’s fast-paced life style, more than ever with our multi-media platform.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

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