- Wesley Borucki
The Chicago Defender, a leading African American newspaper, was founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott (1868–1940). The St. Simon's Island, Georgia, native learned printing at Hampton Institute. He first saw Chicago when he traveled there as a tenor in the Hampton Quartet. Chicago's black population reached forty thousand in 1905, and with three black newspapers there already, Abbott's nascent weekly almost failed. However, several idealistic black writers contributed free columns; among them was the freelancer W. Allison Sweeney, who skewered antiblack politicians. Pullman porters distributed the Defender nationwide to black sellers. African American actors sold copies to theater patrons. Abbott's church chorale helped with story ideas and sales until the Defender appeared on newsstands in the 1910s.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1896 to the Present.