Document Type

Honors Thesis




Benjamin Friedlander

Committee Members

Mary Freeman, Michael Socolow

Graduation Year

May 2023

Publication Date

Spring 2023


In 1905, Robert S. Abbott invested twenty-five cents in starting a weekly newspaper covering stories about and for Black Americans. It would end up being called The Chicago Defender and became one of the most prolific Black newspapers of the 20th century. The staff, throughout the years, would write papers that aided and defended the community's well-being. In the earlier days, it fueled the Great Migration and helped people escape their violent homes in the South. The Defender also exposed lynchings and attempts of it throughout the decades. By exposing the hate crimes of white supremacists, the Defender was communicating awareness to its readers. When the 1930s rolled in, a young illustrator named Jay Jackson was found and joined the team. He would produce many works, most notably the futuristic recreation of Leslie Roger’s Bungleton Green and the Mystic Commandos. When World War II was occurring, he released a comic series named Speed Jaxon. Speed was an athletic and skilled soldier who spread equality worldwide. He fought against Nazis and displayed a solid moral compass throughout the comics. There were times when Speed faced racism from white Americans and reacted with grace and power. All these characteristics challenged visual stereotypes rooted in Jim Crow and minstrelsy. Just as the Defender was significant in combating oppressive news, Speed Jaxon was powerful in combating stereotypical visual representation. Not only as a Black man but also as a Black soldier Speed symbolized the veterans who were equally brave and sacrificial in WWII.

Rights and Access Note

Copyright 2023 Lewandowski All Rights Reserved