John Sengstacke dies at 84

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CHICAGO: John Sengstacke, long-time publisher of one of the country's most influential black newspapers, died Wednesday at the age of 84. Sengstacke joined the Chicago Defender in 1934, and took over as its publisher just six years later. In 1956 he turned it from a weekly into the nation's largest black daily, with a circulation of roughly 25,000. By using his influence with President Franklin Roosevelt, Sengstacke arranged for the hiring of the first black White House correspondent. After World War II, President Harry Truman appointed Sengstacke, a vocal critic of discrimination in the military, to the committee charged with eradicating race barriers in the armed forces. Sengstacke also pushed the Brooklyn Dodgers to sign Jackie Robinson. Sengstacke was considered close to Chicago's Democratic mayors, but refused Mayor Richard J. Daley's entreaties that he help prevent violence during the riots of the summer of 1967. At the time, he told Daley he'd been "giving you suggestions for two years and you've been ignoring them. And now you want me to create a miracle."