John H. Sengstacke

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John H. Sengstacke
Sengstacke in 1942
Born (1912-11-25)November 25, 1912
Savannah, Georgia
Died May 28, 1997(1997-05-28) (aged 84)
Chicago, Illinois
Cause of death Stroke
Children Robert Abbott Sengstacke
Parent(s) Herman Alexander Sengstacke[1]

John Herman Henry Sengstacke (November 25, 1912 – May 28, 1997) was an African-American newspaper publisher. He worked with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to have African-American reporters in the White House and to create jobs in the United States Postal Service for African Americans. One of John's biggest objectives was to desegregate the armed forces. Ultimately, President Harry Truman named Sengstacke to the commission he formed to integrate the military. Sengstacke established the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which was an endeavor to unify and strengthen African-American owned papers. He served seven terms as president of the association.


He was born in Savannah, Georgia, to Alexander Sengstacke on November 25, 1912.[2] At a young age, John worked for the Woodville Times, which was owned by his grandfather and later his father Alexander Sengstacke.

His uncle, Robert Sengstacke Abbott, who founded The Chicago Defender in 1905 and was the publisher, trained John to be heir of this newspaper. The Chicago Defender was a widely read black newspaper. John's uncle paid for his education at the Hampton Institute in Virginia, where he graduated in 1934. It was then that he became Vice President and General Manager of The Robert S. Abbott Publishing Company. In 1940, Robert Abbott died and John Sengstacke inherited his uncle's newspaper.

In 1956, Sengstacke had another huge milestone in his career; he turned his weekly newspaper into a daily newspaper. At that time, The Chicago Defender was the nation's largest African American owned daily paper. Sengstacke also owned the Michigan Chronicle in Detroit, and the Tri-State Defender in Memphis, TN. In the late 1980s he purchased another of history's great Black newspapers, the Pittsburgh Courier. John Sengstacke died on May 28, 1997.


On January 8, 2001, he was presented, posthumously, with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President William Clinton.[3] Thomas Sengstacke Picou, nephew of John, headed a group of business people that included Senstacke's son, Robert, that purchased Sengstacke's chain of four newspapers, which at that time was the largest owned chain of African-American newspapers in the country.


  1. ^ Thomas, Robert McG. (30 May 1997). "John Sengstacke, Black Publisher, Dies at 84". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  2. ^ "John Herman Henry Sengstacke (1912-1997)". PBS. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 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.... 
  3. ^ The White House - Office of the Press Secretary

Further reading[edit]

  • Alkalimat, Abdul. The African American Experience in Cyberspace. Pluto Press, 1994.

External links[edit]