A House for the Struggle

The Black Press and the Built Environment in Chicago
Author: E. James West
Black media buildings and why they matter
Cloth – $110
Paper – $24.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 03/29/2022
Cloth: 03/29/2022
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About the Book

Buildings once symbolized Chicago's place as the business capital of Black America and a thriving hub for Black media. In this groundbreaking work, E. James West examines the city's Black press through its relationship with the built environment. As a house for the struggle, the buildings of publications like Ebony and the Chicago Defender embodied narratives of racial uplift and community resistance. As political hubs, gallery spaces, and public squares, they served as key sites in the ongoing Black quest for self-respect, independence, and civic identity. At the same time, factors ranging from discriminatory business practices to editorial and corporate ideology prescribed their location, use, and appearance, positioning Black press buildings as sites of both Black possibility and racial constraint.

Engaging and innovative, A House for the Struggle reconsiders the Black press's place at the crossroads where aspiration collided with life in one of America's most segregated cities.

* This publication is made possible with support from Furthermore grants in publishing, a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.

About the Author

E. James West is a research associate in American history at Northumbria University. He is the author of Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr.: Popular Black History in Postwar America.

Also by this author

Ebony Magazine and Lerone Bennett Jr. cover



"A House for the Struggle breaks new ground by assessing Chicago's Black newspapers and magazines together, and by connecting them to the buildings and neighborhoods where they operated. E. James West reminds us that journalists with national reach and tremendous ambition still faced the frustrations and indignities of life in a segregated metropolis, and he helps us to understand Chicago as the true capital of the twentieth-century Black press."--Julia Guarneri, author of Newsprint Metropolis: City Papers and the Making of Modern Americans

"A House for the Struggle provides fresh insights into the history of the Black press in Chicago. Through the lens of the built environment, West's compelling narrative takes us inside the newsrooms of the Defender, Ebony, and other rival publications--from their humble origins to the height of their power. But what makes this book extraordinary is how West examines these shifting Black spaces of journalism as crucial sites of intellectual labor, ideological debate, and enterprise that profoundly shaped Chicago urban history, Black identity, and protest politics in twentieth century America."--Erik S. Gellman, author of Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay