Ethan Michaeli is the author of The Defender: How the Legendary Black Newspaper Changed America.
From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: You worked at The Defender in the 1990s. What did you learn from working there, and why did you decide to write a book about the paper’s history?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I didn’t know anything about race in America, African American history, Chicago history, and the history of African Americans in Chicago when I got to The Defender. It all was a blind spot in my education….
The time I spent at The Defender was transformative…I learned about The Defender’s pivotal role in American history. I always felt it deserved a book. I started to get the ambition to write nonfiction, and no one else had told the story and it deserved to be told.
It came to me slowly. At times I thought it would be better to do a memoir about my time at The Defender, but at the end I thought the best way would be to walk the reader through the history of the paper.
Q: You begin the book with a preface set in 2004 featuring Barack Obama, then a senatorial candidate. Why did you choose that episode as the book’s opening section?
A: President Obama really is the end product of more than...[read on]