CHICAGO – In recognition of the Chicago Defender’s tremendous achievements over the last 100 years, Gov. Rod Blagojevich today proclaimed Thursday, May 5, 2005 as Chicago Defender Day in Illinois. The proclamation coincides with the kickoff of the Defender’s yearlong centennial celebration.
“The Chicago Defender has a proud history of defending civil rights, and being the voice for and empowering Chicago’s African American Community. I encourage all citizens to not only recognize its outstanding achievements but also to be proud of its contribution to the entire city of Chicago over the last century,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The Chicago Defender, founded in 1905 by Robert Sengstacke Abbott, has championed African American rights for over 100 years. Throughout its history, the Defender has led the charge against discrimination and racism, fighting to desegregate the armed services in the 1940’s and challenging Jim Crow laws in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
The newspaper’s popularity grew to extend beyond Chicago, as a network of Pullman Car Porters brought the Defender to the first generation of freemen and sharecroppers. This set into motion “The Great Migration,” drawing over 110,000 African Americans north to Chicago in search of opportunity. Though the Defender was banned in many cities, it became the first Black newspaper to reach a circulation of 100,000 copies.
“To this day, the Chicago Defender continues to be a strong voice for African Americans in Chicago and throughout the country, and my administration is honored to join in commemorating their milestone 100th anniversary,” the governor wrote in his proclamation.
The Chicago Defender and its affiliated papers are now owned by Real Times, Incorporated, the largest African American owned and operated newspaper chain in the United States.