Black Americans have been providing information to the masses through newspapers since the early 1800s. In the beginning, these newspapers were created to unify readers and let the rest of the world know that black citizens were humans who were being treated unjustly (Simmons 5). For the entire first century of black newspapers, they fought for an end to violence against Black Americans and provided leadership for obtaining equal civil rights (Simmons 1). As time progressed and situations such as segregation and the civil rights movement no longer existed, these newspapers began to simply report information to the world, as most newspapers do today. While the goals of these newspapers have changed over the centuries, one thing has remained constant: the role of the black editor. Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, survival was a serious problem for most black editors (Simmons 5). These editors received high respect in the black community and played a huge role in effectively delivering messages most white individuals did not agree with. "An editor had to be bold and show a position of strength, but had to be canny enough to live through the consequences" (Simmons 6). While many black editors did have the courage, education, and leadership qualities to take on this job, others did not. Robert S. Abbott and Percy Greene are excellent examples of the good and bad side of being a black editor.
Self-proclaiming itself, "The world's Greatest Weekly", Robert S. Abbott founded The Chicago Defender on May5, 1905 ("Newspapers" 1). Abbott set The Chicago Defender away from other newspapers by breaking away from the traditional style of delivering news. Creative headlines, graphic images, and red ink were used to capture the reader's attention and give detailed descriptions of violent news (Simmons 7). This idea was extremely successful and gained The Chicago Defender a higher status above the three Chicago papers that existed during that time: The Broad Ax, The Illinois Idea, and The Conservator ("Newspapers" 1).