I'm looking forward to reading this new history of the CHICAGO DEFENDER by Ethan Michaeli. At 650 pages long, it offers a substantial expansion of previous work on the DEFENDER by writers such as Myiti Sengstacke Rice. Michaeli also has the inside track on recent DEFENDER history, joining the publication in 1991 after attending the University of Chicago. The writer is all in on the newspaper's influence, contending that it "gave voice to the voiceless, condemned Jim Crow, catalysed the Great Migration and focused the electoral power of Black America."
Michaeli's text has already garnered loft reviews from critics such as Brent Staples, who has described the book as a "deeply researched, elegantly written history" and a "towering achievement that will not soon be forgotten." Jonathan Alter is similarly impressed, contending that the book represents "a major work of American history - the compelling and richly researched history of the legendary African American newspaper and the astonishing collection of history makers whose lives are forever intertwined." Praise indeed!
Ethan Michaeli. Image courtesy of Chicago Tribune
As a reporter who is white and Jewish, Michaeli continues a longstanding connection between Chicago's black and Jewish communities which can be traced back to editors such as Ben Burns in the 1940s and 1950s, and the newspaper's old headquarters at 3435 South Indiana Avenue which had previously served as a synagogue.
For the purposes of this project, Michaeli's text promises to hold valuable information regarding the DEFENDER's different buildings and offices. At 650 pages long, there is sure to be some rich material here relating to the newspaper's architectural history.
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