“Unabridged” with Ethan Michaeli, author of The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.


I began reading two books in mid-April: The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio, and The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, by Ethan Michaeli.

The Chicago Defender: “American newspapers once stood for something more than a marketing plan.”

Yes, these are two very different books. Finally, both are finished. Boccaccio’s been dead for 600-odd years, but had I been paying attention, I’d have known that Ethan Michaeli spoke in Louisville in February.

The video is above, and the description below. I recommend reading the book, particularly as a primer of 20th-century African-American history. However, Michaeli’s hour-long presentation with audience questions touches the high points.

In his latest book, The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America, award-winning author, publisher, and journalist Ethan Michaeli recounts the incredible story of a newspaper that changed the course of history in segregated America. The Defender, the leading paper for African Americans for much of the twentieth century, swayed the outcome of presidential elections and channeled the cry for racial equality during some of the country’s most strife-laden decades. Through interviews and in-depth research, Michaeli’s account shows how the newspaper and its daring staff wielded journalistic power against social injustice. He spoke February 23, 2016.

Current reading: Street Fight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution, by Janette Sadik-Khan, and Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, by Charles Leerhsen.