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Chicago Defender

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The Chicago Defender is a Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 based newspaper founded in 1905 by an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 for primarily African American readers.

In just three years from 1919–1922 the Defender also attracted the writing talents of Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance...

 and Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Elizabeth Brooks was an American poet. She was appointed Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968 and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1985.-Biography:...


In 1923, founding publisher Robert Sengstacke Abbott
Robert Sengstacke Abbott
Robert Sengstacke Abbott was an African American lawyer and newspaper publisher.-Biography:Born on November 24, 1870 in St. Island, Georgia to former slave parents. Abbott was still a baby when his father, Thomas Abbott, died...

 and editor Lucius Harper created the Bud Billiken Club
Bud Billiken Club
The Bud Billiken Club was a club for black youths in Chicago founded by the Chicago Defender founder Robert Sengstacke Abbott and its editor, Lucius Harper, in 1923. The Club was formed as part of the paper’s children’s page, the Defender Junior, to encourage readership, appropriate conduct, and...

 and later organized parades to promote healthy activity among black children in Chicago. In 1929 the organization began the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic, which is still held annually in Chicago in early August. In the 1950s under Sengstacke's direction, the Bud Billiken Parade expanded and emerged as the largest single event in Chicago. Today, it attracts more than one million attendance with more than 25 million television viewers making it one of the largest parades in the country.

Abbott's nephew, John H. Sengstacke
John H. Sengstacke
John Herman Henry Sengstacke was an African American newspaper publisher. He worked with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to have African American reporters in the White House and to create jobs in the United States Postal Service for African Americans. One of John’s biggest objectives was to...

, took over the paper in 1940. In 1948, he encouraged President Harry S. Truman to integrate the Armed Service, which he did soon after. Sengstacke served as a member of Truman's appointed committee to assure the military had implemented a plan to fully integrate the military.

Sengstacke also brought together for the first time major black newspaper publishers and created the National Negro Publisher's Association, later renamed the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). Today the NNPA consists of over 200 black newspaper members. Two days following the publishers' first meeting in Chicago, Abbott died.

One of Sengstacke's most striking accomplishments occurred on February 6, 1956, when the Defender became a daily paper and changed its name to the Chicago Daily Defender, the nation's first black daily newspaper.

Control of the Chicago Defender and her sister publications was transferred to a new ownership group named Real Times Inc. in January 2003. Real Times, Inc. was organized and led by Thom Picou, and Robert (Bobby), John H. Sengstacke's surviving child and father of the beneficiaries of the Sengstacke Trust. In effect, Picou, then Chairman and CEO of Real Times, Inc., led what was then labeled a "Sengstacke family led" deal to facilitate trust beneficiaries and other Sengstacke family shareholders to agree to the sale of the company. Picou recruited Sam Logan, former publisher of the Michigan Chronicle, who then recruited O'Neil Swanson, Bill Pickard, Ron Hall and Gordon Follmer, black businessman from Detroit, Michigan
Detroit, Michigan
Detroit is the major city among the primary cultural, financial, and transportation centers in the Metro Detroit area, a region of 5.2 million people. As the seat of Wayne County, the city of Detroit is the largest city in the U.S. state of Michigan and serves as a major port on the Detroit River...

 (the "Detroit Group") as investors in Real Times. Chicago investors included Picou, Bobby Sengstacke, David M. Milliner (who served as publisher of the Chicago Defender from 2003-2004), Kurt Cherry and James Carr.

See also

  • Chicago Defender Building
    Chicago Defender Building
    The Chicago Defender Building is the former Jewish synagogue building that housed the Chicago Defender from 1920 until 1960. It was designated a Chicago Landmark on September 9, 1998. It is located in the Black Metropolis-Bronzeville District in the Douglas community area of Chicago, Illinois at...

  • African American Newspapers

External links