The Chicago Crusader
"The Militant Voice of the People"
TypeWeekly newspaper
Owner(s)Dorothy Leavell
Founder(s)Balm L. Leavell, Jr. and Joseph H. Jefferson
PublisherThe Crusader Newspaper Group
Headquarters6429 S. King Dr., Chicago, Illinois
Sister newspapersThe Gary Crusader
OCLC number10405260
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The Chicago Crusader, known from 1940 to the 1950s as The Crusader and from the 1950s to 1981 as The New Crusader,[1] is a weekly African-American newspaper serving Chicago. It is one of two newspapers in the Crusader Newspaper Group, the other being the Gary Crusader.

Founded by Balm L. Leavell and Joseph H. Jefferson in 1940 and published by Balm Leavell until his death in 1968, The Chicago Crusader has subsequently been operated by his widow Dorothy Leavell. It is Chicago's longest-running African-American weekly.[2]


When it was established in 1940, The Crusader occupied a single page and was operated out of an apartment in the Ida B. Wells Homes on Chicago's South Side.[3] In this early period, it served as the official organ of the Negro Labor Relations League,[2] an organization established in 1937 to challenge the racial discrimination in employment in Chicago. The newspaper later moved to its current location on King Drive in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood.[3] By the late 1960s, its circulation had risen to 31,000.[4]

The Crusader's historical significance includes running a column titled "Muhammad Speaks", by Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (NOI), in the 1950s prior to the creation of the NOI's own Muhammad Speaks newspaper.[5] It was one of very few newspapers to run the column, another being the Pittsburgh Courier. During the same period, The Crusader also published a column on "Women of Islam" by Tynnetta Muhammad (under the name Tyneta Denear),[6] who later published a column by the same title in Muhammad Speaks. When the Nation of Islam established Muhammad Speaks, it hired Dan Burley, who had formerly worked for The Crusader as well as the Chicago Defender, to edit it.[7]

In 1960, the newspaper extended a formal invitation to the imprisoned Kenyan independence leader Jomo Kenyatta to speak in Chicago.[8]

Dorothy Leavell joined the newspaper as its office manager in 1961, marrying Balm Leavell soon after.[9] She became the newspaper's business manager in 1964, and upon her husband's death she took charge of the entire operation.[10] Dorothy Leavell has served in prominent roles in many African-American publishing organizations and was inducted into the National Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2016. She took over Chicago's alternative weekly, the Chicago Reader in 2018.[11]

See also

Works cited


  1. ^ "About The new crusader. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.) 195?-1981". Chronicling America. Library of Congress. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  2. ^ a b Carter 2017, p. 480.
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Erick (2018-02-15). "The King of Kings: The 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Drive". Chicago Crusader. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  4. ^ "Balm Leavell Jr., Chicago Publisher, Dies at 58". Jet. 1968-11-14.
  5. ^ "The Man of the Century: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad". CROE Online. Coalition for the Remembrance of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. Retrieved 2019-12-30.
  6. ^ "Testimony of Balm L. Leavell, Jr.". Cooper v. Pate: Appendix of Defendants-Appellants. 1966. p. 113.
  7. ^ Jeffries, Bayyinah S. ""Raising Her Voice": Writings by, for, and about Women in Muhammad Speaks Newspaper, 1961–1975". Africana Islamic Studies: 23.
  8. ^ Maloba, W. O. (2017). Kenyatta and Britain: An Account of Political Transformation, 1929-1963. Springer. p. 146.
  9. ^ Carter 2017, p. 480-481.
  10. ^ Carter 2017, p. 481.
  11. ^ Blumberg, Nick (July 5, 2018). "Meet Dorothy Leavell, the Chicago Reader's New Publisher". WTTW News. Retrieved 2019-12-30.

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