Claude Albert Barnett, entrepreneur and founder of the Associated Negro Press (1919-1967), was born in Sanford, Florida to William Barnett and Celena Anderson. At nine months he was brought to Mattoon, Illinois to live with his maternal grandmother. Barnett grew up in Illinois, attending schools in Oak Park and Chicago. In 1904 he entered Tuskegee Institute. Two years later in 1906 he received a diploma and was granted the Instituteâ€™s highest award.
Following graduation Barnett returned to Chicago and became a postal worker. Through his new employment he read numerous magazines and newspapers. Fascinated by the advertisements, in 1913 Barnett began reproducing photographs of notable black luminaries, which he sold through advertising in African American newspapers. By 1917 Barnett had transformed this endeavor into a thriving mail-order enterprise.
After this initial success, Barnett and several partners started the Kashmir Chemical Company, a cosmetics business where he served as advertising manager. Shortly thereafter he resigned his post office position and traveled the country, promoting both his photographs and beauty products to mostly black customers. As he placed his ads in various black newspapers across the country he noticed a common trend, these newspapers were in dire need of substantive news to report.Â Continue reading
In April 1976, the black-owned Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation purchased a 49 percent interest in the Mutual Black Network for a reported $850,000. Three years later, Sheridan bought the rest for $1 million and renamed it the Sheridan Broadcasting Network. When Mutual sold its interest, MBN had 89 affiliates, reaching 17 million black listeners daily – 70 percent of the U.S. black population.
Incidentally, the two black networks which started out as rivals in 1972 eventually became one: Sheridan merged with NBN in 1991 to form American Urban Radio Networks.