What began as a modern-day periodical in 2008, inspired by the 1827 African American newspaper Freedom’s Journal, Freedom’s Journal Institute is conserving traditional African-American values and advancing the Kingdom of God through sociopolitical education and engagement rooted in a Biblical worldview.
Noted as the first African-American owned and operated newspaper, Freedom’s Journal (FJ), founded by John Brown Russman and Samuel Eli Cornish, served as a vital weekly source of news, information, and editorials of importance to the more than 300,000 freed Black men and women residing on the upper east coast. Co-founder and president of Freedom’s Journal Institute (FJI), Dr. Eric Wallace, said that FJI began as a tribute to “freedom fighters” Russman and Cornish, and an effort to further the magazine’s footprint by acting as a vehicle for the thoughts, opinions, and ideas of Black conservatives today.
The succinct declaration “We wish to plead our cause” was the founding mission of FJ and continues to represent the guiding vision of FJI, Wallace shared.
“Too long have others spoken for the Black community. Too long has the public been deceived by misrepresentation of things which concern us dearly,” said Wallace, reflecting on the founding sentiment. “We felt that way as Black conservatives that either people weren’t hearing from us or when they did, they weren’t hearing it from the mouth of Black conservatives.”
Wallace said that FJI strives to give a “voice to the Black conservative” by voicing the physical, spiritual, and political needs of Black communities.
“We not only wanted to continue the magazine, we wanted to provide events, editorials, media, and broadcasting, in an effort to build something that would be more substantive with a larger impact than the printed magazine,” said Wallace.
Wallace shared that despite being an ordained minister and holding a Ph.D. in Biblical studies, his calling was in the political arena, not the local church. Utilizing his extensive background in seminary studies, Wallace sought to apply Biblical insight and Christian values to the issues facing Black American Christians today.
“I found it to be ludicrous that a lot of folks, especially in the Black church, were not voting their values. They said they were pro-traditional marriage and pro-life, but they were voting for people who were not because they felt for some reason the liberal progressives were supporting a Black agenda. When indeed it does not,” said Wallace.
Wallace outlined the collective fear of Black Americans that FJI has noticed––“there’s this idea that there’s one political party that is looking to the interests of Black Americans and the other party is working against those interests.”
“One of the things we want to do at Freedom’s Journal Institute is challenge the church in general and the African American church in particular, to vote our values and begin to realize that the political process and civil engagement isn’t just for non-Christians, it’s for Christians as well,” said Wallace. “We are called to make a difference in this world, and we can’t do this if all we do is go to church, go to work, go home, and never engage in anything else. Sharing our faith is one thing, but discipleship, civil discourse, and cultural engagement is the other.”
Quoting Genesis 9:6, Wallace emphasized that despite the culture’s obsession with social and racial justice apart from Biblical truth, a proper understanding of justice is rooted in Scripture. Without a Biblical understanding of justice and righteousness, Wallace said, the “whole system is turned upside down.”
“You can’t have justice without righteousness, and you can’t have righteousness without justice,” said Wallace. “But the world only wants to talk about justice, not Biblical justice. And they don’t want to talk about righteousness, what it means to live righteously, especially according to God’s standard. It doesn’t fit the narrative.”
Wallace views discipleship as an essential aspect of FJI’s mission, encouraging those pursuing cultural and political engagement to prioritize Christ first and foremost.
“It’s Christ over everything,” said Wallace. “Including how we vote, including our civil engagement, and that we’re to affect the places that we live locally at a state level and federal level. Some of that is done through how we vote, running for office, and making our voices heard.”
Wallace continued, “Even though we’re citizens of two different kingdoms we are called to impact and influence the one we currently reside in. It’s not for us to stand on the sidelines and then complain. It’s getting involved in the fight.”
Through their Black Conservative Summit and their TV program Kingdoms in Konflict, FJI examines issues pursuant to ensuring rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and proclaims a legacy of Black conservatism across all generations.
“The summit is an opportunity not only for us to bring together Black conservatives to talk about these particular issues, but it’s an opportunity to bring together all conservatives who are concerned about the state of our country,” said Wallace.
FJI’s fifth annual Black Conservative Summit will be held in Tinley Park, Illinois at the Tinley Park Convention Center, March 24-25, 2023, and will feature speakers including Larry Elder, Lieutenant Colonel Allen B. West, Dr. Voddie Baucham, and other respected voices in Black conservative media. Learn more about Freedom’s Journal Institute and the Black Conservative Summit at freedomsjournalinstitute.org.