The Abbott Institute

501 (c) (3)


The Robert S. Abbott Race Unity Institute envisions a community where healing and reconciliation are commonplace amongst people of all identities, social justice is upheld and honored, and people honestly engage in history in order to live more truthfully in the present.  Ultimately, we strive to influence thought, which leads to changed hearts, which leads to changed behavior. --


The Robert S. Abbott Race Unity Institute is named for a son of former slaves who became the most influential African-American publisher in the western hemisphere. The Institute was founded for the purpose of fostering relationships with peoples of varying multi-cultural backgrounds. The Institute actively supports the vision of racial and religious harmony, as well as social justice, by sponsoring events throughout the year.


Robert S Abbott was a native son of the Golden Isles, Georgia, he started a newspaper empire with a quarter. He influenced the lives of millions. His struggles to shine light on the principles of justice and righteousness, his education of his race to demand their right to equality, his ceaseless efforts to make the world aware of the atrocities his race endured; these battles he waged more than a century ago.


Born on November 24, 1868, on St. Simons Island, Georgia. His parents Thomas and Flora Abbott, were former slaves who had received their freedom from Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. Abbott attended both Claflin College in Orangeburg, S.C. and Hampton Institute (now Hampton University) where he trained as a printer and graduated in 1896. He graduated from Kent College of Law in Chicago with a law degree in 1899. On May 5, 1905, he published the first edition of The Chicago Defender which consisted of four sixteen-by-twenty-inch pages. He elevated The Defender to national prominence with his entrepreneurial skills. By 1929, The Defender occupied a three-story building with its own printing press, a large production staff and a circulation of 250,000 copies weekly with readership across the country. It was once  heralded as "The World's Greatest Weekly." Widely regarded even today as the greatest single force in African-American journalism, it also made Robert one of the first self-made millionaires of  African-American descent.


Launched in 1929,  the Bud Billiken Parade was quickly followed by the Bud Billiken Club, credited with significantly reducing juvenile crime in Chicago. Ninety+ years later, the parade still attracts thousands of participants each year and is ranked as the second largest parade in the United States. Robert was stricken with tuberculosis in 1935, which in combination with Bright’s disease, led to his death on February 29, 1940 at the age of 71.


In 1944 the S.S. Robert S. Abbott was launched in San Francisco. One of only 13 World War II liberty ships named for outstanding African-Americans.


His home at 4742 South Grand Boulevard in Chicago (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


A school was named in his honor; Robert S. Abbott Elementary located at 3630 S. Wells.




USMail: P.O. Box 1834 | Brunswick, GA  31521