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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 Black newspapers in this country to reach a circulation of more than 100,000.
During the era classified by historians as the "Great Migration," from 1915 to 1948, The Chicago Defender and Abbott played a major informational role. Using its pages, Abbott influenced 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 his uncle's work, 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 for African Americans in the United States Postal Service.
Abbott graduated from 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 circulation of the Defender grew.
The Chicago Daily Defender today is a newspaper that gives readers worldwide news coverage, 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