Black journalists across the nation should bow their heads and pay heavy respects to the life and career of Simeon Booker this week. The pioneering newsman passed away this past Sunday at the age of 99, but his contributions to journalism will live on forever.
Booker was born August 27, 1918 in Baltimore, Maryland and raised primarily in Youngstown, Ohio. He developed an interest in the news through his parents and their friendship with Carl Murphy, the owner and operator of the Afro American Newspaper. After leaving Virginia Union University, Booker began working for the Afro American before earning a Neiman Foundation fellowship at Harvard University in 1951.
Upon leaving Harvard, Booker took a job with The Washington Post, becoming its first full-time Black reporter. He then began working with Jet magazine. Booker’s coverage of the murder of Emmett Till and the related trial put him on the news map. Booker’s steady coverage of civil rights led to his five-decades-plus career with Jet as its Washington bureau chief.
In 1982, Booker was named the National Press Club’s first African-American winner of its Fourth Estate Award. In 2013, Booker was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame. And in 2015, he was awarded the George Polk Career Award.
As an author, Booker published three books: 1964’s Black Man’s America, 1969’s Susie King Taylor, Civil War Nurse, and 2013’s Shocking The Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement.
According to his wife of over four decades, Carol, Booker passed at an assisted-living community in Southern Maryland due to complications from pneumonia. The couple had one son, Terry. Booker was 99.
PHOTO: Fair use
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