This Newspaper Was Crucial To Telling Important Black Stories

linotype operators of the chicago defender
Leslie Taylor-Grover
May 11, 2023

Robert Abbott had 25 cents to his name as he worked out of his landlord's apartment to realize his dream. He wanted to tell Black stories - true ones not created by white writers.

Once considered "The World's Greatest Weekly," The Chicago Defender advocated for racial and economic rights. Never needing white approval, Abbott and the Defender team did it in the Blackest way possible.

At the time, not many other publications were willing to write the truth about what was targeting Black people. But Abbott's team didn't have time to play around.

They never minced words. The newspaper faced racial issues head-on and in a style that many considered militant, using heavy headlines and graphic images, and highlighting things using red ink. Their powerful stories covered the horrors of lynchings, assaults, and other attacks on Black people.

It paid off. By 1920, the Defender was reaching hundreds of thousands of us. White Americans couldn't stand it and banned the newspaper from some newsstands across the South.

Despite it all, The Defender continued to push its advocacy for Black people throughout the country and created a legacy as one of the most essential papers in history. Like Abbott and his team, despite how anti-Blackness may try to stop us, we must see our visions through.