Leanita McClain

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Leanita McClain (1951–1984) was an American journalist and commentator, best known for her observations of race and politics in Chicago and the U.S. in the early 1980s. Her writings in the Chicago Tribune and in opinion pieces published in Newsweek gave broad exposure to her thoughts on race and class in the United States. Her work addressed both local topics, such as the election of Harold Washington as mayor in 1983, as well as topics of more national interest, including the challenges facing the growing black middle class.

Life and career[edit]

McClain was born in Chicago in 1951, and grew up in the Ida B. Wells housing projects. She graduated from Chicago State University and the Medill School of Journalism. Upon graduating, McClain joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune in 1973 and the editorial board in 1983. She was married briefly to fellow journalist Clarence Page.

A posthumous collection of her essays, edited by Clarence Page, was published in 1986.[1] One reviewer wrote:

McClain tackles subjects well known to all Chicagoans, from a "corner tavern brawl" in Chicago's divided City Council to the decline of a black private school on the city`s West Side. But the book is far from parochial; McClain also brings fresh insight to perennial problems of national interest, such as a column that praises America's black colleges that remain "dignified and undaunted" in the face of dwindling enrollment and resources; and her description of the pain of a young girl's illegal abortion interfaced with the rhetoric of anti-abortionists.

— Laura Washington[2]

McClain suffered from depression through much of her life, and died by suicide in Chicago in 1984.[3]


  1. ^ McClain, Leanita (1986). A Foot in Each World. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 0-8101-0742-2.
  2. ^ Washington, Laura (Dec 4, 1986). "McClain's Painful Legacy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  3. ^ Page, Clarence (February 5, 2012). "Time to shatter the black suicide myth". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 27, 2012.