John H. Henry Sengstacke

John H. Henry Sengstacke
John Herman Henry Sengstacke (1912-1997)
newspaper publisher

Sengstacke was born November 25, 1912, in Savannah, Georgia. He was singled out by his uncle, Robert S. Abbott, publisher of The Chicago Defender, and trained as his successor. Abbott financed his nephew's education at Hampton Institute, where he graduated in 1934. Abbott also subsidized his studies at the Mergenthaler Linotype School, The Chicago School of Printing, Northwestern University, and Ohio State University.

In 1934 Sengstacke became Vice President and General Manager of The Robert S. Abbott Publishing Company, and served as its president, following Robert S. Abbott's death in 1940. He founded The National Newspaper Association in 1940, and served as its president for seven terms. The organization was established to unify African American newspaper publishers and currently has over 200 members. He started the Chicago Daily Defender in 1956.

Sengstacke's contributions extended beyond the publishing world. He was involved in community service work in Illinois, and received several Presidential Appointments during the Administrations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson. He served as the editor-publisher of The Chicago Daily Defender until his death on May 28, 1997, at the age of 84.

Further Reading


Sengstacke, John Henry. The Defender, The Negro Press, and You. n.p. 1960. Available through interlibrary loan @ University of Rochester.


Higgins, Chester, Sr. "Is The Black Press Dying?" Crisis 1980 87 (7): 240-241.

Staples, Brent, "John H. Sengstacke: Citizen Sengstacke," The New York Times Magazine, January 4, 1998: (27-28).

Washburn, Patrick S. "J. Edgar Hoover and The Black Press in World War II." Journalism History 1986 13(1): 26-33.


---. John Sengstacke, The Chicago Defender. St. Petersburg, Fl.: Poynter Institute for Media Studies, 1986. Produced and directed by Chuck Sterin. (one videocassette, VHS format, 28 minutes).