Robert S. Abbott – Millionaire Newspaper Publisher
by Bayer Mack
Robert S. Abbott, one of the first African American self-made millionaires, was the founder of The Chicago Defender, which became known as “America’s Black Newspaper”.
Mr. Abbott started The Chicago Defender in 1905 with an initial investment of 25 cents that is valued around $600 today.
His newspaper became the most widely circulated black newspaper in the country.
The slogan he established for his paper, “American race prejudice must be destroyed,” reflected his belief about what the ideal experience should be for black Americans or any American.
He used the pages of The Chicago Defender to not only encourage people to migrate North for a better life, but also fight for an even better lifestyle once they arrived.
The newspaper’s columns helped to bring about the Great Migration of black Americans from the rural South to Northern industrial centers, which had an abundant need of workers to manufacture goods for World War One.
By 1916, The Chicago Defender’s circulation reached 50,000. It climbed to 125,000 by 1918 and achieved an unprecedented 200,000 by the early 1920s.
This incredible increase in circulation resulted from Mr. Abbot’s superb strategy of using the nation-wide network created by the black Pullman Company railroad porters.