Nieman News

Simeon Booker, second from the right, covers the Emmett Till murder trial for Jet magazine in 1955. He is seated in the Negro press section with, from left, Clotye Murdock of Ebony, L. Alex Wilson of The (Memphis, Tenn.) Tri-State Defender, and Steve Duncan of The St. Louis Argus

Simeon Booker, second from the right, covers the Emmett Till murder trial for Jet magazine in 1955. He is seated in the Negro press section with, from left, Clotye Murdock of Ebony, L. Alex Wilson of The (Memphis, Tenn.) Tri-State Defender, and Steve Duncan of The St. Louis Argus

Ohio representatives have introduced legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Simeon Booker, a civil rights icon and 1951 Nieman Fellow, in recognition of his many achievements in the field of journalism.

Representatives Tim Ryan, Dave Joyce, and Marcia Fudge introduced bipartisan legislation on February 1, the beginning of Black History Month, to award the medal—Congress’s highest honor—to Booker, who was born in Baltimore and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. “Simeon Booker is a highly-respected journalist whose award-winning reporting changed the course of this nation,” said Fudge. “Mr. Booker used his pen and pad to shed light on the plight of African Americans and propelled the issues of civil rights, equality, and justice to the world stage. He wrote about what others wouldn’t, went places others didn’t, and spoke for those who couldn’t.”

While still in college at the Virginia Union University, Booker began his career in journalism writing about the Negro Baseball League for the Youngstown Vindicator. He became the first full-time African American reporter at The Washington Post in 1952, and became well known for his civil rights reporting for Jet and Ebony magazines. He famously covered the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi and the subsequent trial in 1955, and, as Jet’s Washington bureau chief for more than 50 years, covered every presidential election between 1953 and his retirement—at the age of 88—in 2007. He is also the author of two books, “Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement” and “Black Man’s America.”

Among his many awards and recognitions, Booker was the first African American to win the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award in 1982 and was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame in 2013.

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