The Chicago Defender
What began in 1905 as a journalistic startup founded on an investment of 25 cents and a setup in a small apartment kitchen has now grown into the oldest and most respected African-American newspaper from Chicago: The Chicago Defender.
When Robert S. Abbott first started The Chicago Defender its issues were in the form of four-page, six-column handbills that were compilations of local news items and clippings from other newspapers. The paper’s coverage began to grow and broaden in scope in 1910 when Abbott hired his first full-time paid employee.
As a northern newspaper, The Defender found the freedom to tackle racial inequalities and broadcast them sensationally. The words “Negro” and “black” were never found on its pages; instead, African Americans were always referred to as “the Race.” The Defender captured a national readership of over 500,000 people at its peak—making it the first African American newspaper to do so at the time.
In 1956, The Defender became a daily publication and changed its name to The Chicago Daily Defender. At the time it was the nation’s second largest African American daily paper. The name was changed back to The Chicago Defender in 2003 when new ownership converted it back to a weekly.
Today, The Defender maintains its renown and publishes a variety of stories in areas such as politics, national and local news, faith, health, business, sports, and more. Articles and stories can also be accessed through its website, https://chicagodefender.com. Hekman Library also maintains access through our subscription to ProQuest's African-American Historical Newspapers. We have online access to The Defender from 1909-1967, 1973-1975, and 2014-2015.
(Article written by Kayleigh Fongers, library student worker)