Veteran Journalist and Co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Claude Lewis, has died.
Lewis reportedly passed away on Thursday at the age of 82, in New Jersey.
Born and raised in the Bronx, N.Y., the veteran news legend is being remembered as a trailblazing journalist, who was not just deeply committed to his craft, but was equally devoted to diversity and equity in newsrooms across the country.
Lewis, a product of New York City’s public school system, graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1953. He then worked as a copy boy at Newsweek by day and attended City College of New York at night, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Early in his career, Lewis worked as an editor and reporter for Newsweek and The New York Herald Tribune.
Philly.com credits Lewis for making history by becoming the first person of color to write a regular newspaper column in Philadelphia. He was a longstanding reporter and columnist for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and once the Bulletin closed for good, Lewis went on to write for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Lewis was a gifted writer in general, but showed a particular passion for civil rights and can be distinguished by some of the groundbreaking interviews he did with African-American notables such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
He also produced television specials and documentaries for Westinghouse Broadcasting and NBC and spent some time teaching as a professor at Villanova University. In addition to being a co-founder of NABJ, Lewis also co-founded the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and helped lay the groundwork for the chartering of the Washington D.C. chapter.
In a written statement posted to the association’s website, NABJ President, Sarah Glover, remembered Claude Lewis as “a gentle giant and kind soul whose passion for equality and equal opportunity can be seen in his columns and life’s work. He had a personal impact on the trajectory of many NABJ members, myself included, showing us all the way. Claude lives on in all of us. I thank him for instilling in me, and my peers, a deep level of tenacity and commitment to the cause.”
Lewis is survived by his wife, Beverly, their four children; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; two brothers; and one sister.