Chandler Owen

April 5, 1889 — 1967

Progressive-Era editor, writer, and labor activist

Chandler Owen

Chandler Owen was a writer, editor, and labor activist who cofounded the radical socialist journal The Messenger with A. Philip Randolph, his close friend throughout life. Owen became disillusioned with socialism by 1923 and moved to Chicago, where he became managing editor of the Chicago Bee, an influential black newspaper. He joined the Republican Party and became a public relations professional and speechwriter for such politicians as Thomas Dewey and Dwight Eisenhower.1

Like his chief influences, Randolph and Hubert Henry Harrison, Owen was an atheist; in a 1919 issue of The Messenger he and Randolph declared, “We do not thank God for anything... our Deity is the toiling masses of the world and the things for which we thank are their achievement.”2 Owen’s dedication to improving quality of life for the working class distinguishes him among the era’s great humanists.

  1. “Owen, Chandler,” Oxford African American Studies Center, available at

  2. Carter G. Woodson, The Mis-Education of the Negro (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1990; originally published by The Associated Publishers, 1933), 55.