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The Defender

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethan Michaeli. The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America from the Age of the Pullman Porters to the Age of Obama. New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company (2016).

This history is beautifully written and exquisitely researched. The subtitle may seem like an overreach; after all, how can a newspaper change America? The answer is that Robert Sengstacke Abbott, the founder of The Defender, put his newspaper at the very center of one of the formative events of twentieth-century America, the Great Migration. There are many wonderful details in this book, including a portrayal of child-journalist Willard Motley writing letters under the nom de plume “Bud Billiken,” a fictional creation of The Defender.

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