On May 5th, 1905 the black newspaper “The Chicago Defender” was founded by Robert S. Abbott. It made history by having the first black publication to have over ten thousand readers. Abbott started the infamous newspaper out of a small apartment kitchen. His initial investment was only twenty-five cents. The paper also started on an initial press run of only three hundred copies. He worked on this paper by himself for five years until 1910. In 1910, he hired his first full time paid employee by the name of J. Hockley Smiley. The paper was said to be the most influential black newspaper of its time.
After he hired Smiley, the message of The Chicago Defender was able to reach new heights. Not only were the local blacks of Chicago able to be influenced by the newspaper but black people all over the United States. It was stated that two thirds of the periodicals readers were located outside of the Chicago area. The paper tackled national issues such as racism, and discrimination. Lynchings, rapes and other attacks on blacks were also discussed. Job opportunities and progressive stories about blacks were found in the newspaper as well. Many times it featured work of literary greats such as Gwendolyn Brooks. Whites of the South did not want to distribute the newspaper. However black entertainers and Pullman porters helped to promote the paper and gained readership amongst Southern blacks. At its peak the newspaper was said to have over five hundred thousand readers per week.
In 1940, the heir of the periodical whose name was John H. Sengstacke and was the nephew of Abbott gained editorial control of the newspaper. In 1956, the name was changed to “The Chicago Daily Defender”, and was known to be the largest daily ran periodical for blacks. Sengstacke was editor over the paper until he died in 1997.