Black History…John H. Sengstacke kept dreams alive at the Pittsburgh Courier


“When I came to work and the padlocks were on the doors, it was one of the worst days of my life. No one knew.”
“When I heard the Courier was in trouble I decided that this was not going to happen. We could not, I could not allow this to happen.”
Above statements are from Hazel Garland, a longtime employee of the Pittsburgh Courier and John H. Sengstacke, the man who kept the paper alive with his purchase in 1966.
After 56 years of being the most influential, the most powerful and the highest circulated of any Black newspaper in history the Pittsburgh Courier came to a jolting halt when the government shut it down because of its failure to pay taxes and the many other bills it had accumulated. A paper that once employed 350 people in Pittsburgh and hundreds more throughout the country would have come to a crashing halt, if not for the dreamer.
When Sengstacke purchased the Courier he already owned the largest chain of Black newspapers in the country, papers that included the Chicago Defender, Memphis Tri-State Defender, and the Michigan Chronicle in Detroit. He renamed it the New Pittsburgh Courier thus avoiding having to pay the bills and taxes accumulated by the old Courier. Just what the details were, only he knows and he took it to his grave.

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