Black History Month: Primetime Pays Respect To “The Chicago Defender” Historic Black Newspaper

In respect to Founder Editor- Robert S. Abbott


The Chicago Defender, which was founded by Robert S. Abbott on May 5, 1905, once heralded itself as “The World’s Greatest Weekly.”

The newspaper was the nation’s most influential black weekly newspaper by the advent of World War I, with more than two-thirds of its readership base located outside of Chicago and beyond.

The Newspaper cost around 25 cents and published about 300 copies a week in Chicago.

In 1910 Abbott hired his first full-time paid employee, J. Hockley Smiley, and with his help, The Defender began to attract a national audience and to address issues of national scope. Smiley incorporated yellow journalism techniques similar to those used by William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer into the paper in order to boost sales and to dramatize various racial injustices in America.


The Defender had more freedom to denounce issues outright, and its editorial position was very militant, attacking racial inequities head-on. Sensationalistic headlines, graphic images, and red ink were utilized to capture the reader’s attention and convey the horrors of lynchings, rapes, assaults, and other atrocities affecting black Americans.

The Defender did not use the words “Negro” or “black” in its pages. Instead, African Americans were referred to as “the Race” and black men and women as “Race men and Race women.”

Read more about their history here.

You may also check out the newspaper’s current role in Chicago today. By visiting




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