The Chicago Defender, Legendary Black Newspaper, Prints Last CopyBreaking News
tags: African American history, newspapers, Chicago Defender, media history
CHICAGO — Decade by decade, the newspaper told the story of black life in America. It took note of births and deaths, of graduations and weddings, of everything in between. Through eras of angst, its reporters dug into painful, dangerous stories, relaying grim details of lynchings, of clashes over school integration and of the shootings of black men by white police officers. Among a long list of distinguished bylines: Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks.
After more than a century, The Chicago Defender will cease its print editions after Wednesday, the newspaper’s owner has announced. The Defender will continue its digital operation, according to Hiram E. Jackson, chief executive of Real Times Media, which owns The Defender and other black newspapers around the country. He said the move would allow the news organization to adapt to a fast-changing, highly challenging media environment that has upended the entire newspaper industry.
“It is an economic decision,” Mr. Jackson said, “but it’s more an effort to make sure that The Defender has another 100 years.”
Still, the demise of The Chicago Defender’s print editions represented a painful passage for many people who grew up in Chicago and for those with memories of its influence far beyond this city. Of its many significant effects over many years, The Defender told of economic success in the North, and was seen as a catalyst in the migration of hundreds of thousands of black Americans from the South.
In Chicago, it was a constant, on newsstands in African-American neighborhoods and on kitchen tables in African-American homes.