Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Trailblazing Civil Rights Journalist Simeon Booker Dies at Age 99

Journalist Simeon Booker (center) is presented with a Phoenix Award at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2010. (Ann Heisenfelt/AP Images)
Journalist Simeon Booker (center) is presented with a Phoenix Award at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s annual Legislative Conference Phoenix Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2010. (Ann Heisenfelt/AP Images)

Simeon Booker, the trailblazing black journalist known for detailing African-American life in Ebony and Jet magazines, died Sunday at the age of 99 in an assisted-living community in Maryland.

Advertisement

Booker had many accolades under his belt, including having been the first full-time black reporter at the Washington Post. He is also credited with bringing the horrific 1955 lynching of Emmett Till to the nation’s attention. His article, as the Associated Press notes, included the open-casket picture of Emmett’s badly brutalized face. His murder in Mississippi ultimately became a launchpad for the civil rights movement.

His iconic reporting in the Deep South also placed him in danger, AP notes. Tributes mention that he was known to sometimes dress as a minister or a farmer to escape scrutiny.

Advertisement

Born in Baltimore and raised in Youngstown Ohio, Booker started his career as a journalist working for several black publications. He later joined the Post in 1952 but then moved on to found the Washington bureau for Johnson Publishing, the parent company behind Jet and Ebony.

He remained in that position for more than half a century, covering 10 presidents during his storied tenure, and even traveling abroad to report on the Vietnam War. He eventually retired in 2007.

Booker was also the author or co-author of four books, including his 2013 memoir, Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement.

Booker was ultimately inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame in 2013 and also received a George Polk Award for lifetime achievements in journalism. He was also the recipient of the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award.

Advertisement

Read more at the Associated Press.

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

He eventually retired in 2007.

Worked until he was 89 and then wrote/finished his memoir when he was 95.

Respect due, sir and I wait eagerly for your biopic.

RIP Simeon Booker