In his new book The Defender: How The Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016), Ethan Michaeli
charts the riveting history of the Chicago Defender
, one of the nation's longest running and most significant black periodicals.
Founded in 1905 by publisher Robert S. Abbott, the Defender
came to play a central role in regional and national black politics; drawing African Americans north to Chicago as part of the Great Migration out of the South, condemning Jim Crow and bolstering the electoral power of black America, and helping to secure the election of presidents such as Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.
Relying on exhaustive research, including dozens of interviews and extensive archival material, Ethan has constructed the most in-depth and illuminating history of the Defender
ever published - highlighting not only the impact of publisher Abbott and iconic columnists such as Ida B. Wells and Langston Hughes, but also the hundreds of other journalists and editors who contributed to the legendary newspaper's development. Alex Kotlowitz has described The Defender
as "a majestic, sweeping history, both of a newspaper and of a people," and Carol Anderson has applauded the text as a landmark study which will "become an essential resource in African American cultural and political studies."