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The Chicago Defender newspaper was founded on this date in 1905. The brainchild of Robert Abbott, it was one of the first African American newspapers in this country to reach a circulation of more than 100,000.
During the era classified by the historians as the "Great Migration," 1915 to 1948, The Chicago Defender and Abbott played a major informational role. Using its pages, Abbott was able to influence more than 50,000 African Americans to leave southern states and come to Chicago. The paper stated that in Chicago the opportunities for employment, education and personal freedom were immensely greater. On February 4, 1956, Abbott's nephew, John H. Sengstacke took over the Chicago Daily Defender.
This publication became the largest African American daily in the country. Continuing the work of his uncle, he used the Defender to help "improve the quality of life" for all Americans. He was directly involved in the desegregation of the U. S. armed forces. He also worked closely with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create jobs in the United States Postal Service for African Americans.
Abbott was a graduate of Hampton Institute in Virginia and Kent School of Law in Chicago. Forbidden to practice law because of racial discrimination, Mr. Abbott turned to the skill he had learned at Hampton, printing. With 25 dollars, a table and a typewriter, he began publishing The Chicago Defender from his kitchen. In its original concept, The Chicago Defender began as a weekly publication. Over the years, the influence and the circulation of the Defender grew.
The Chicago Daily Defender today is a newspaper that brings readers worldwide coverage of news, excellent features and a myriad of other sections. The Defender does not limit its news columns to African American subjects. Instead, it covers the full spectrum of news. However its major audience is the African American market, and its purpose is to fulfill the African American need for a publication dedicated to this cause.
EBONY Pictorial History of Black America
By the editors of Ebony, Vol. 1 through 4
Copyright 1971, Johnson Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill
Image, Jack Delano