Houston Defender

By: Diana J. Kleiner

Revised by: Leon Richardson

Type: General Entry

Published: September 1, 1995

Updated: July 17, 2020

The Houston Defender, a weekly black newspaper, was established in Houston on October 11, 1930, by Clifton Frederick Richardson, Sr. The periodical chronicled the activities and concerns of the African-American population in the area. Richardson, a political activist and civic leader, focused on important socio-economic issues including the elimination of Jim Crow laws. After C. F. Richardson's death on August 26, 1939, the Houston Defender was managed by his three sons: Clifton F. Richardson, Jr., became the editor and publisher; Leon A., Sr., became the business manager/advertising manager until he left in 1945 for another career; and Robert was associated with the paper from 1940–41 as circulation manager after which he left for another career. During this period the paper espoused a platform supporting new parks and paved streets, space restrictions on rental housing, separation of Prairie View from Texas A&M University, increased black representation in police and fire departments, more sensitive curricula for the Houston public schools as well as a technical high school, county institutions for delinquents, equal rights, voting rights, anti-lynching laws, capital punishment, and an increase in black-owned businesses. Clifton F. Richardson, Jr., continued as the owner, editor, and publisher until 1981 when Sonceria Messiah-Jiles purchased the Houston Defender and became its publisher. In 2008 the Defender had a readership of 60,000 with Messiah-Jiles as the owner publisher and Von Jiles as the editor. In 1993 the paper launched the Campus Defender, a bi-monthly tabloid written by middle school and high school students and aimed at the student audience; the Campus Defender became an online publication in 2008.

Charles William Grose, Black Newspapers in Texas, 1868–1970 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1972).

  • Journalism
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Newspapers
Time Periods:
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Diana J. Kleiner Revised by Leon Richardson, “Houston Defender,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/houston-defender.

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September 1, 1995
July 17, 2020

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