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Mirror of the Times Founded 1857

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Founded by two African-American businessmen, Mifflin W. Gibbs and James Townsend, the Mirror of the Times, appealed to a small community of African Americans in California as a weekly newspaper. Its first editor was the African-American writer William H. Newby. The only Black newspaper in the Bay Area at the time, it gained national attention with its staff of over 30 corresponding editors and subscription agents. The driving force behind the newspaper was owner Gibbs, a free-born Philadelphian who went to California seeking gold in 1850. A devoted abolitionist, participant in the Underground Railroad, and friend of Frederick Douglass, whom he accompanied on a statewide tour of New York in 1849, Gibbs had little tolerance for the way Blacks were treated in a new, so-called "free state." He used the Mirror to chide fellow Blacks into confronting the restrictive "Black Laws" of California. In 1857, Blacks from all over the nation attended the California Colored Convention in response to the publicity given it by the Mirror. Gibbs made a fortune in the clothing and dry goods trade, real estate speculation, and transportation, both in California and British Columbia, Canada. After the Civil War, he moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, where he continued to prosper in business and politics into the 1880s.

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