This “extraordinary history” of the influential black newspaper is “deeply researched, elegantly written [and] a towering achievement” (Brent Staples, New York Times Book Review).
In 1905, Robert S. Abbott started printing The Chicago Defender, a newspaper dedicated to condemning Jim Crow and encouraging African Americans living in the South to join the Great Migration. Smuggling hundreds of thousands of copies into the most isolated communities in the segregated South, Abbott gave voice to the voiceless, galvanized the electoral power of black America, and became 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 The Defender’s support. Drawing on dozens of interviews and extensive archival research, Ethan Michaeli constructs a revelatory narrative of journalism and race in America, bringing 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.
“[This] epic, meticulously detailed account not only reminds its readers that newspapers matter, but so do black lives, past and present.” —USA Today