Throughout the Great Migration, The Crisis was a point of reference for blacks newly scattered across America.
The Crisis was an early pioneer in challenging standards of beauty, featuring women of color on the front cover of hundreds of issues.
The magazine also explored the role of colored soldiers in Europe during World War I.
For decades, the magazine reached a diverse readership. The working poor subscribed to stay up on news and job opportunities, while the leisured, wealthy class of blacks—seen here—read The Crisis for graduation and society announcements.
During the roaring ‘20s, The Crisis gave artists of all stripes a space to express themselves. This image, by a New York-based visual artist, depicts a black Garden of Eden.
A recurring feature of the magazine was its annual “Education Number,” which covered black achievements and breakthroughs in the academy, and its “Children’s Number,” which addressed issues of child and community development.
Occasionally, the full name of The Crisis—“A Record of Darker Races”—would appear on the cover. That subtitle was officially discarded in 1997, when the journal appeared as The New Crisis: The Magazine of Opportunities and Ideas. Today, it is published quarterly as The Crisis.
The literary output of The Crisis was strongest during the years of the Harlem Renaissance, from 1919 to 1929. Five years after Jessie Redmon Fauset stepped down as literary editor, Du Bois established an annual prize for writing in three categories—poetry, fiction,and nonfiction—in hopes of encouraging new talent.
International coverage in The Crisis increased as its circulation widened to encompass readers on other continents. In addition to this take on race in Mexico, the “Along the Color Line” section regularly provided updates on Europe and Africa.
Du Bois’ interest in socialist thought became more pronounced at the end of his tenure as editor-in-chief of The Crisis. This issue—on the heels of stories on Leninism in Africa, and Du Bois’ controversial “Communism and the Negro” essay—turned to Karl Marx’s economic philosophy and its import for American blacks.
All images courtesy of the Library of Congress.