Simeon Booker, the trailblazing journalist and first full-time African-American reporter for The Washington Post, has died.
Booker died at age 99 in Solomons, Maryland, according to his wife, Carol.
For decades, he served as the Washington bureau chief for EBONY and JET. He was credited with bringing national attention to the lynching of then-14-year-old Emmett Till, a Chicago teen who was brutally murdered in Mississippi more than 60 years ago.
Till’s death is largely credited with fueling the Civil Rights Movement. Mutilated pictures of his battered and bruised body made national headlines.
EBONY Media Operations CEO, Linda Johnson Rice said Booker was largely responsible for catapulting the civil rights movement.
“I have known Simeon for my entire life. Growing up at Johnson Publishing Company, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know him,” she reflects. “He dared to cover stories where other writers were reluctant. He was on the front lines of the civil rights movement representing EBONY and JET. He was a courageous man. His contributions to EBONY and JET via the Emmett Till story was the catalyst for the beginning of the civil rights movement. He was the backbone of our civil rights coverage.”
Booker, who was born in Baltimore but raised in Youngtown, Ohio, joined The Post in 1952. Two years, later he moved on to become bureau chief for EBONY and JET.
In 2013, Booker reflected on his desires to be a writer when he spoke with The Vindicator newspaper of Youngstown.
“From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a writer” he said. “Teaching and preaching were the best advances for blacks at the time. But I wanted to write.”
Last year, Booker was the recipient of the George Polk Award in Journalism for career achievement.