The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jan 12, 2016 - History - 288 pages
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“An extraordinary history…Deeply researched, elegantly written…a towering achievement that will not be soon forgotten.”—Brent Staples, New York Times Book Review

“[This] epic, meticulously detailed account not only reminds its readers that newspapers matter, but so do black lives, past and present.”—USA Today


Giving voice to the voiceless, TheChicago 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, 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 TheDefender’s support.

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.
 

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The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Michaeli, a former copy editor and investigative reporter for the Defender, delivers an encyclopedic narrative of African-American history via the publishing legacy of one of the country’s largest and ... Read full review

THE DEFENDER: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America

User Review  - Kirkus

This chronicle of the influential black Chicago newspaper simultaneously tracks the important issues pertaining to African-American history from the turn of the 19th century. A copy editor and ... Read full review

Contents

1 A Defender of His Race
1
2 If You See It in The Defender Its So
22
3 Getting the South Told
39
4 The Great Northern Drive
61
5 The Greatest Disturbing Element
80
6 The Bonds of Affections
97
7 Reaping the Whirlwind
119
8 Bombing Binga
137
15 Promises vs Performance
295
16 The Daily Defender
321
17 One Vote per Precinct
348
18 A Socratic Gadfly
368
19 A Prayer for Chicago
394
20 A Dark Hour in the Life of America
420
21 The Last Remains of Nonviolence
441
22 Victories Are Contagious
461

9 Chicago Vindicated
156
10 The Burdens of the Future
175
11 Well Take the Sea
195
12 Farewell Chief
218
13 Victory Through Unity
242
Photographs 18
268
14 Santa Claus and a World War
268
23 Stick Around for a While
495
24 The Roar of the El Train
524
Back Matter
537
Back Flap
635
Back Cover
636
Spine
637
Copyright

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About the author (2016)

ETHAN MICHAELI is an award-winning author, publisher, and journalist based in Chicago. He was a copy editor and investigative reporter at The Defender from 1991 to 1996.

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