Louis E. Lomax’s contributions to journalism are both noteworthy and historic. Beyond introducing much of white America to the unflinching Blackness of Nation Of Islam spokesperson Malcolm X, Lomax was the first Black man to work as a television journalist.
Born August 16, 1922 in Valdosta, Ga., Louis Emanuel Lomax attended Paine College in Augusta and American University earning his master’s degree in philosophy. Lomax obtained his Ph.D in 1947 from Yale University. After a brief time teaching philosophy at Georgia State College, Lomax made his foray into journalism.
The young reporter cut his teeth at Black newspapers The Afro-American and Chicago Defender, leaving print work behind in 1958 to focus on television. Working for WNTA-TV in New York as a show producer, Lomax made history during his rise.
The following year, Lomax and his colleague, the late Mike Wallace, worked on a five-part series that examined the surging Nation Of Islam and its charismatic national spokesperson. Both Malcolm X and Nation of Islam leader the Hon. Elijah Muhammad appeared on the program with Wallace handling narration. Lomax became a freelance writer and author for a time, establishing himself with books like The Reluctant African and The Negro Revolt. Much of Lomax’s writings centered on the Civil Rights Movement, Black nationalism and other related matters.
From 1964 to 1968, Lomax hosted his own talk show series on KTTV in Los Angeles. He was also an in-demand lecturer. Lomax was the recipient of a $15,000 Esso Foundation grant and was working on a three-volume series centered on Black history when tragedy interrupted his goals. On July 30, 1970, Lomax was driving back to New York after completing a West Coast swing of lectures. Lomax lost control of his vehicle in the state of New Mexico and was declared dead at the scene. He was 47.
Author and former Washington Post staffer Karl Evanzz wrote in his 1992 book The Judas Factor: The Plot To Kill Malcolm X that Lomax was set to work on a documentary detailing the FBI’s alleged involvement in the leader’s assassination. Though nothing was ever proven, Evanzz concluded that Lomax’s untimely death might have been connected to the documentary.