Former EBONY Editor and Scholar Lerone Bennett Jr. Dies at 89

Credit: James Mitchell

Historian, scholar and former EBONY and JET journalist Lerone Bennett Jr. has died. Bennett, 89, passed away in his sleep of advanced vascular dementia.

The Chicago resident played a pivotal role in creating the magazines’ legacies. He served as a city editor for JET and was an executive editor of EBONY for decades. In addition, he was a well-respected author who penned multiple books, including a biography of EBONY founder John H. Johnson titled Succeeding Against the Odds. One of his most seminal works, Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619-1962, originated from a series Bennett had written for EBONY. In March, the Morehouse College graduate was profiled by the African-American Intellectual History Society for his intellectual activism, saying his career with EBONY proved “popular media platform could just as easily become a classroom.”

During a 2010 interview with the Visionary Project, Bennett incidentally prophesied the future of journalism: “I’ve always believed that you write history one day and you write entertainment the next.”

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