The Chicago Defender, the historic African American newspaper founded in 1905, will cease print publication, with the last print issue releasing on Wednesday. The decision has been announced to the local media in Chicago, but readers have not been alerted on social media, or on the company’s website. The newspaper will move entirely to digital publications.
“This is a difficult decision, but I think it’s the right decision,” Hiram Jackson, CEO of Defender parent company Real Times Media, told the Chicago Tribune. “The Defender is about providing information to the African-American community. The numbers are evident that the best way to do that is through doubling down on our digital platform.” Jackson also told the Tribune that the Defender publishes around 16,000 copies per week, but reaches 475,000 monthly visitors online.
The Chicago Defender has chronicled over a century of history, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Langston Hughes. The paper was founded in 1905 by Robert S. Abbott in the south side of Chicago. By the beginning of the World War I, two-thirds of its readership came from outside of Chicago, as it spread across the South.
Image Via Kentake Page
“We understand that to some of our loyal readers, this rite of passage is a painful one” Jackson said. “However, we are committed to preserving the legacy of the Chicago Defender and are excited to be making this bold step to ensure its vitality for the next 100 years.”
The 4th of July celebrates America’s win for independence. Here is a short list of American authors who fought to protect that which their forefathers created. These writers have impacted the world with not just their writing, but their service as well.
Walt Whitman, 1819-1892
Image via Poets
Walt Whitman was fervently attempting to build his career as a poet when the American Civil War began. Whitman’s focus went from writing to supporting the physically and mentally wounded soldiers, his brother included.
He worked as a freelance journalist and visited the wounded at New York City–area hospitals. He then traveled to Washington, D. C. in December 1862 to care for his brother, who had been wounded in the war.
Overcome by the suffering of the many wounded in Washington, Whitman decided to stay and work in the hospitals; he ended up staying in the city for eleven years.
Ward K, Armory Square Hospital, Washington, D.C. | Image via Warfare History Network
According to Britannica, Whitman continued this balance of supporting the war and his poetry by working as a clerk in the Department of the Interior, until he was dismissed because the secretary of the Interior thought that Leaves of Grass, one of his most famous books, was indecent. Regardless of how long, Whitman took time to make a difference in the best way that he could.
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
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Ernest Hemingway was working as a journalist at The Kansas City Star to build experience as a writer. Then, World War I began to take root. Although he grew up in the states, Hemingway served overseas as an ambulance driver in the Italian Army, according to Biography.com. An article from the Washington Post adds that Hemingway nearly lost his life during the war, but thanks to a nearby Italian soldier rushing in to cover Hemingway, the young writer’s life was saved.
…18-year-old Ernest Hemingway, who was distributing candy and cigarettes as a Red Cross volunteer. When an Austrian mortar landed near the [Italian] soldier, he was killed instantly. Hemingway sustained extensive wounds but survived because the soldier’s body took the brunt of the explosion.
Ernest Hemingway after the mortar attack. | Image via Washington Post
Sustaining the injuries he had received, Hemingway earned the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery. The injuries landed him in a hospital in Milan, but that was where he met his wife Agnes von Kurowsky. Their marriage may not have lasted, but the heartbreak gave him the inspiration for “A Very Short Story” and, more famously, A Farewell to Arms.
If it weren’t for the sacrifice of that Italian soldier, whose name has finally been recovered by the Washington Post— Fedele Temperini — we would not have the work of the most influential writers in literature today.
According to Notable Biographies, it was World War II that took Heller overseas to fight in the Army Air Corps. It was not too long after graduating from high school that Heller worked briefly in an insurance office, then enlisted. Heller flew sixty combat missions as a fighter pilot, earning an Air Medal and a Presidential Unit Citation.
Young Joseph Heller working in an Air Craft of the 57th Bomb Wing. | Image via History Net
Across sources, it is debated how much impact Heller’s experience had on his writing in Catch-22. For sure, his time in the Army was certainly an inspiration to write a soldier’s story. Heller only began writing two years after becoming an English professor.
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
Image via Brain Pickings
Kurt Vonnegut Jr served during World War II and came especially close to losing his life. According to the Vonnegut Library, Vonnegut was enrolled in Cornell University working toward a degree as war was coming to a boiling point. His fighting did not last long at all, as he was captured by German soldiers almost immediately after being shipped overseas in Europe.
As a POW (prisoner of war), Vonnegut was held captive in Dresden, a Eastern city in Germany that was soon bombed by English and American air raids.
The resulting firestorm turned the non-militarized city into an inferno that killed up to 60,000 civilians. Vonnegut and his fellow POWs survived by accident only because they were housed some 60 feet underground in a former meat locker and slaughterhouse.
Vonnegut’s job for weeks after the bombing was to gather up and burn the remains of the dead. His experience at Dresden marked him for life and eventually resulted in his literary masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five.
Kurt Vonnegut (center) as a German POW in WWII | Image via Patrick Murfin Blogspot
Kurt Vonnegut survived the war and returned home, where he married and started a family. As his story continues he did not have the happiest of endings. However, his success in becoming a famous and beloved writer gave him a place to express his sorrows and inner turmoils, as well as share his voice and opinions on how we may be able to make the world a better place.
In his last novel, Timequake, and his last collection of essays, A Man without a Country, Vonnegut powerfully expressed his sense that corporate greed, overpopulation and war would win out in the end over simple humanity. As he ruefully apologized to those who would come after him, ‘We could have saved the world, but we were just too damned lazy.’
Coming from a man that has seen it all, these are strong words. Hopefully his pessimistic view of the future is wrong and we can learn from the past to make a better future.
From support roles to fighting the front lines, many have made such efforts to protect their country. As we watch the 4th of July fireworks light up the night sky, let’s think of them, and hope for an even brighter future. Not just for America, but for the entire crazy world that we are a part of too.
Imagine waking up in Cairo on January 25th of 2011. Trying to call your loved ones, but to no avail. Trying to turn on your lights, but to no avail. Turning on your television, and witnessing the people of your country violently turning on the government in the historical site Tahrir Square. In light of the low wages, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and police brutality that plagued the nation, millions of protesters from various social, economic, and religious backgrounds demanded the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Violent interactions between the police and the protesters resulted in almost 1,000 people killed, and over 6,000 left injured.
Image Via The New Yorker
The role of women in the revolution needs to be discussed more. Prior to the revolution in 2011, women only accounted for 10% of protestors in uprisings. However, in 2011 in Tahrir Square, they accounted for about half of the protestors. Together with men, women risked their lives to defend their fellow Egyptians and defend the square. The reason why there was a huge increase of female presence in the protests is attributed to the improvement of education, especially throughout younger women. Quite an empowering moment not just for Middle Eastern women, but women around the world.
Image Via Al Jazeera
Women and the Egyptian Revolution: Engagement and Activism during the 2011 Arab Uprisingschronicles the 2011 revolution in Egypt through the viewpoint of women, with various first hand interviews with female activists. It looks at the history of gender throughout Egypt and discusses the possible outcomes for the future possibilities of women’s rights within the country. The author, Nermin Allam, blends social movement theories and the lived experiences of women during the uprisings, leading up to the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. Female engagement in political confrontation throughout the Middle East is a highly under researched topic, and this book is a crucial contribution to the field.
Today marks the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. The proclamation was declared by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1st, 1863, but the news did not reach Texas until two-and-a-half years later. Since then, generations have celebrated the day as Juneteenth and forty-five states recognize it as a state holiday.
As we remember this historic day in United States history, below are ten powerful quotes by central figures about the ugly history of slavery and this holiday’s meaning.
Image via CNN
1. “I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” – Frederick Douglas.
2. “I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive; I should fight for my liberty as long as my strength lasted, and when the time came for me to go, the Lord would let them take me.” – Harriet Tubman.
3. “We’re in denial of the African holocaust. Most times, people don’t want to talk about it. One is often restless or termed a racist just for having compassion for the African experience, for speaking truth to the trans-Atlantic and Arab slave trades, for speaking truth to the significant omission of our history. We don’t want to sit down and listen to these things, or to discuss them. But we have to.” – Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X.
Image via CNN
4. “If the cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. Because the goal of America is freedom, abused and scorned tho’ we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
5. “Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.” – Malcolm X.
6. “My people have a country of their own to go to if they choose… Africa… but, this America belongs to them just as much as it does to any of the white race… in some ways even more so, because they gave the sweat of their brow and their blood in slavery so that many parts of America could become prosperous and recognized in the world.” – Josephine Baker, legendary entertainer and activist.
Image via CNN
7. “Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” – Abraham Lincoln.
8. “Where annual elections end where slavery begins.” – John Quincy Adams.
9. “…the 19th of June wasn’t the exact day the Negro was freed. But that’s the day they told them that they was free… And my daddy told me that they whooped and hollered and bored holes in trees with augers and stopped it up with [gun] powder and light and that would be their blast for the celebration.” – Haye Turner, former slave.
10. “Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday.” – Texas Rep. Al Edwards.
Naomi Wolf’s latest book, Outrages, was set to release Tuesday, June 18th, but it is now being postponed by the publisher due to unchecked data stirring up controversy. Outrages is a nonfiction account of 19th century British laws that allowed for the criminalization and punishment for those who were found to be in same-sex relationships. After an on-air appearance last month, claims arose that Wolf misinterpreted much of her research leaving a gaping hole in her book.
The publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, isn’t taking any chances with this discrepancy and has recalled 35,000 copies of the book from retailers who were all set to get these up on shelves for tomorrow. This isn’t the first time Wolf has found herself entangled in criticism regarding the accuracy of her books. Before this, she has released The Beauty Myth and Vagina: A New Biography, where she was accused of exaggerating how many women die of anorexia and making strange claims about female biology. Neither book was taken off of shelves to correct those inconsistencies, so it is surprising that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt decided to do that with this book.
image via publisher’s weekly
Wolf stands by her work, which claims there have been several instances of executing men who were caught having sexual relations with other men. BBC Radio host, Matthew Sweet, claimed the “death recorded” statements on the prison records doesn’t necessarily mean these men were executed; possibly, they pardoned by the judge. There is a stark difference between being executed and being pardoned, and it is easy to see where Wolf made that mistake. According to Sweet, “death recorded” was “a category that was created in 1823 that allowed judges to abstain from pronouncing a sentence of death on any capital convict whom they considered to be a fit subject for pardon.”
The issue is that if her book is to record the plight of gay men in 19th century England, she has to be able to that correctly. By making claims of execution where the evidence doesn’t back that up, she does more harm to the LGBTQIA+ community than good. The problem, however, is that when nonfiction books are picked up by a publisher, the company rarely fact checks the author’s work. Instead, it falls on the author’s time and dime to make that happen. By hiring a historian to fact check and help her reinterpret the evidence, I’m sure Wolf and her publisher can get to the truth at hand.
Outrages has already released in the U.K., but the publisher has not said whether they will take the books off of shelves there to fix the error or if they will just re-edit for a new edition.