In 1905 from a small kitchen in Chicago, with a loan of $13.75, Robert S. Abbott singlehandedly changed the course of tens of thousands of African-Americans for generations. It is amazing what one man or woman can do with passion and determination. Yes, out of that small, rented kitchen, a light for our people was born. With grit, guts and grace, Mr. Abbott saved lives, inspired, and ignited the first and greatest act of self-determination ever witnessed by the Negro people. With 300 copies of a four-page newspaper, he was a firestorm all by himself. As editor, publisher, reporter and yes, even the “newsboy,” Abbott took on the mantle of being the “defender of his people” and what would come to be known as The Chicago Defender and its legacy of greatness was birthed.
From those humble beginnings, The Defender grew to be the most prominent and influential Black newspaper the world over. With readers across the country and across the globe, The Defender was “the word” for Blacks. Next to the Bible itself, the Defender was one of the most highly-read and anticipated publications, and like the Exodus, was the instigator of the Great Migration leading multitudes of Negros from the brutal and bloody “Jim Crow South” to the “Promised Land” in Chicago. It was a time unprecedented in this nation’s history, yet the descendants today, of those who were brave enough to risk their very lives to make the trek north for a taste of freedom, are in need of reminders which harken us back to that time, as we are in a state of disrepair and neglect when it comes to our greatness. We are in need of a reminder, and at least our two newest generations are in need of Black history lessons, because the ball has been dropped. Mr. Abbott would be crying today.
An easy statement to make is that we as a people have lost our way. We hear this every day in various media outlets, in discussions in the stores, barber chairs and in our pulpits. We watch, shake our heads and at times cry out, as we see the despair and degradation that has overcome segments of our collective community. Sadly, we are afraid of our own children. Too afraid to speak up, or even advise against behaviors we clearly see are not only wrong but potentially tragic. Pants hanging low, “baby mamas and baby daddies,” children becoming parents, and parents acting like they are the children. Bullets have replaced baseballs, and “weed” has replaced jump ropes.
Our children don’t play outside anymore and in many neighborhoods cannot. I miss the sound of double-dutch rhymes out my window, and seeing hopscotch drawn on the sidewalks. We have stood by and watched our boys become armed and take over the neighborhoods, while we cower inside and hide. It is almost like the factions of warrior boys we see on the news in some African nations. We witness their demise, from kindergarten to prison. Yet we do nothing but talk and point fingers. These are OUR children, yet we have relinquished control of them to them. They control and guide each other. Are we too busy to care anymore? We listen as those who are supposed to be “in the know” argue, debate, berate and malign each other’s differing viewpoints. But in the end, it all comes down to one core point. We have lost the respect for one another, which has led to us losing our way. Go into your local store and watch as the young woman curses out the cashier. Are we too afraid to say “Baby, do you need a hug” and calm the situation down? It’s just awful. How do we find our way back?
We at the Chicago Defender recognize that we must stand at the forefront and sound the clarion call for our people once again. The time has come for us to retake our position in defense of “The Race” and call for a better way. During the past year, The Chicago Defender has undergone much change. I myself, represent tremendous change in this institution as the first woman to ever be charged with guiding this organization, and with setting the agenda for what our place is in this society. What our commitment is to our community, and how what we do here every day will be in defense of and for the betterment of our people, “The Race.” We have made tremendous strides throughout my first year, but we have a very long way to go.
Here is what you, the Black Community of Chicago, can expect from The Chicago Defender going forward. You can expect to read stories, which inform, uplift, inspire and ignite our community to change for the better. You can expect us to champion the causes of our people. You can expect us to not only explore and report on the “top” news stories, but to read about the positive things that happen each and every day, in most of our homes, because contrary to the bleed and lead stories we get from the mainstream media, most Blacks work hard every day. Most Black children go to school and do well. Most Blacks pay taxes, raise families and thrive each and every day. Those are the stories we will continue to tell. I know that everyone will not agree with what we say, and we welcome your comments and feedback. But be respectful. We have to get back to some decorum and good will between each other to begin any real change.
Most of all, we will work diligently to bring information to you from people in our communities with ideas for solutions to the problems that plague so many of us. Not in a hyperbolic way, but in a clear and concise format, which is easy to understand, and whenever possible with steps we can all take to make things better day by day. It is possible. If one man could do something that changed the destiny of our people from his kitchen in 1905, then surely with all that we have today, we can do it again.
For all of the support, over all of our time as The Chicago Defender Newspaper, I humbly and graciously thank you, and I ask that all of our readers, be it in the paper, online, via social media or mobile media, continue to support our journey. We are
The Chicago Defender Newspaper, here as always, to Uplift and Support “The Race.
A Message from the Publisher
The Chicago Defender Newspaper, here as always, to Uplift and Support “The Race.”
The Chicago Defender