With award-winning author, publisher and journalist Ethan Michaeli. His latest book “The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.” Michaeli was a copy editor and investigative reporter at The Defender from 1991 to 1996.
About the book:
Giving voice to the voiceless, the Chicago 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, and was dubbed a “Modern Moses,” becoming one of the first black millionaires in the process.
The Defender achieved national reach by the late teens and was far and away the most important publication in the Black press. Abbott was leading the way toward an indictment of military segregation, but came under federal pressure when the head of the Military Intelligence Bureau named The Defender “the most dangerous of all Negro journals.”
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. Along the way, its pages were filled with columns by legends like Ida B. Wells, Langston Hughes, and Martin Luther King.
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.