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HOUSTON DEFENDER. 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).

Diana J. Kleiner

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Diana J. Kleiner, "HOUSTON DEFENDER," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed November 30, 2015. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.