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The Defender: How the Legendary Black…
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The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America

by Ethan Michaeli

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The Defender is more than just a history of a newspaper; this well-researched history also follows the course of Civil Rights in our country. In addition, it includes a fair amount of Chicago history. It certainly shows the importance of a free and independent press: "The Defender was more than just a periodical: The newspaper carried with it messages, dreams, and hopes and plans...They weren't just selling a newspaper. They were informing the people of a better world."

When Robert Abbot founded the weekly newspaper in 1905, he wanted "to make his newspaper a force to combat the pervasive racism of the era." He continued with that goal until his death, when his nephew, John Sengstacke continued with his work.

Through the years, this newspaper endorsed local and national candidates, and its publisher had the ear of presidents. With the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, "The journalists felt a sense of personal pride in the justices' ruling, too, knowing that they had played an essential role in reaching this point. 'We weren't members of the regiment of lawyers headed by Thurgood Marshall that had argued the case ...on the other hand, we did not look upon ourselves as uninvolved onlookers just reporting what was happening. We felt that our stories and editorials had helped create the climate that made the decision possible.'"

Examples of the changes made possible by The Defender abound through this wonderful book. As the author says about his own experience working on the newspaper: "It had filled in so many of the blanks in American history left by the textbooks of my youth and showed me how things really work."

This book should be taught in history classes. Highly recommended.
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  BLBera | Apr 1, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547560699, Hardcover)

“The story of the Chicago Defender is the story of race in the twentieth century.”  — Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded The Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a "Modern Moses," becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspaper’s clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for The Defender’s support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King.

Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen’s clubs to do their jobs, from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 06 Nov 2015 21:34:23 -0500)

""The story of the Chicago Defender is the story of race in the twentieth century." -- Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago Defender condemned Jim Crow, catalyzed the Great Migration, and focused the electoral power of black America. Robert S. Abbott founded The Defender in 1905, smuggled hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, and was dubbed a "Modern Moses," becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process. His successor wielded the newspaper's clout to elect mayors and presidents, including Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, who would have lost in 1960 if not for The Defender's support. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King. Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of race in America and brings to life the reporters who braved lynch mobs and policemen's clubs to do their jobs, from the age of Teddy Roosevelt to the age of Barack Obama"--… (more)

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