“American race prejudice must be destroyed.” That statement is number one on a list of nine goals in the Chicago Defender Bible. They are just as important in 2015 as was in 1905. Robert Sengstacke Abbot, the founder of the Chicago Defender, followed through on a dream of equality. He created one of the longest standing Black publications in the world. In its early days, the Chicago Defender served as a conduit of information between the north and south providing information with regards to the murderous tyranny black people were experiencing at the hands of white people and shining the light on the potential promise of prosperity that existed in Chicago. Over a century later the Chicago Defender continues its legacy of being a voice of the black community. Rolling out had an opportunity to speak with the Chicago Defender’s Mark A. Sengstacke (executive director) and Cheryl Mainor (president and publisher) of the newspaper. We talked about the importance of the newspaper and its direction.
“I would like to see the Chicago Defender grow as a daily source of news for African Americans. It’s important to have a Black press because the major press is just not sensitive to needs of the African American community. That’s what people have been telling me for years,” said Sengstacke.
“The importance of this 110 year anniversary is the legacy of this publication,” stated Sengstacke. “The Chicago Defender is more than just a newspaper: it’s a civil rights organization, a social service agency, and many other things all rolled into one within our community. Having been here and serving this community, not only in Chicago but across the United States for 110 years, we thought that it was appropriate that we spend some time in celebration of that. Especially, with the changes that newspapers have gone through within the last 10 years with the advent of the Internet. We are still able to be here — publishing every week, rain or shine no matter what. We still have an audience and a subscriber base across the country that still wants to read what the Chicago Defender prints. In the next 110 years, I would want to see our people still finding relevance in the Black press, not only with the Chicago Defender, but within the Black press and all that means. We have members of the Black press that are nationwide, many of the newspapers are members of the NNPA (National Newspaper Publishers Association), we have weekly magazines, we have bloggers, we have other types of Internet websites that all comprise a Black press. I would look for the Chicago Defender to keep up with technology and continue to deliver the news that is relevant to our readers and community in any way that they can receive it.” said Mainor.
The Chicago Defender was started with 25 cents on a card table with 300 copies. It has been able to affect the lives of many and be a trumpet for the Black community for over a century. It speaks to the necessity of the Black press and why we need it now more than ever. We are grateful for the vision of Robert Sengstacke Abbott and the promise of destroying American racial prejudice. “Congratulations!” and “Thank you!” to the Chicago Defender.
Eddy Lamarre, aka, Precise is a hip-hop artist-writer-actor from Chicago. The Chicago Reader recognized “Ladies Love Mixtapes” his latest release as one of the best projects of 2014. Listen/Buy Ladies Love Mixtapes at: https://precise.bandcamp.com/album/ladies-love-mixtapes-the-ep