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This course will examine the history of the African American press, especially The Chicago Defender, a newspaper which spanned the technological and political transformations of the 20th Century media. Founded as a weekly in 1905, The Defender became Black America’s first national communications vehicle using newly available mass printing machines as well as page design techniques pioneered by Hearst and Pulitzer. The news pages exposed the horrors of Jim Crow, while editorials inspired millions to come to Northern cities in what became known as the Great Migration. The Defender and its cohort, including The Pittsburgh Courier, wielded substantial political clout, providing the swing votes that elected Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy to the Presidency. But as the century wore on, black newspapers had to compete for audience as well as staff against a multitude of print, broadcast and, ultimately, on-line options. Taught by the author of the award-winning non-fiction book about The Defender, himself a veteran of the newspaper, the course includes guest lectures, field trips, and references to the substantial scholarship of the history of the South Side. There are no prerequisites.

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