Journey to Empowerment: Honoring African Americans in entertainment

Since its founding in 1905, the Chicago Defender has been dedicated to chronicling life in Black America. Its readers learn of people and events, moments and movements that encourage, inspire, and even entertain.

Since its founding in 1905, the Chicago Defender has been dedicated to chronicling life in Black America. Its readers learn of people and events, moments and movements that encourage, inspire and even entertain. The stories of Black America told through words and images, headlines and pictures, rest in the archives of the Defender. As in years past, in celebration of Black History Month, the Defender opens its archives to share the images of life in Black America with the community.

Like politicians and business leaders, Black performers have made their mark on Chicago, the nation and the world. The Defender has been there to tell the stories and highlight the contributions. The nation’s premier Black newspaper by the beginning of World War I, the Defender featured Black performers who were the originators of jazz, rhythm and blues and gospel, supported entertainment pioneers such as filmmaker Oscar Michaeaux and performer Paul Robeson, and launched the careers of musicians such as Nat King Cole and Lionel Hampton. In its more than 100-year history, the Defender documented the explosion of Black Americans in all entertainment fields and was there to document the performances of local and national entertainers that were often omitted from the white press.

This exhibit represents a small sampling of the iconic and lesser known actors, dancers, vocalists, musicians and comedians presented in the pages of the Defender during its long history. The images are drawn from the Defender archives and offer a glimpse at the ways the Defender has captured and continues to capture life in Black America.

Click here to find out times and dates to visit the Chicago Defender’s Journey to Empowerment event.

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Click here to see the Journey to Empowerment photo gallery.

Copyright 2009 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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