by Zenitha Prince
For New Pittsburgh Courier
(NNPA)—John H. Murphy III was being remembered last week as the steady hand that guided the Afro-American Newspapers through the turbulent waters of civil rights history and a perilous industry. The newspaper’s former president and CEO died Oct. 16 at the Stella Maris Nursing Home in Timonium, Md. He was 94 years old.
“He carried on the tradition of the AFRO, which was, and is, a crusading newspaper, and did whatever he could to further the cause of justice and equality,” said Moses Newson, who worked as an AFRO reporter, city editor, and then executive editor from 1957 to 1978. “He was a great guy to work for. You know how it is with this business, deadlines, people trying to sue the paper…but he was never one to jump up and down and get too excited. He was always on an even keel.”
It was that steadiness and dedication to the advancement of African- Americans that made the AFRO a leading source of information, advocacy, and even succor throughout the riotous years that was the apex of the Civil Rights Movement.
“Mr. Murphy served the paper during a tumultuous time in civil rights history,” said the AFRO’s current CEO and Publisher John “Jake” Oliver. “From the assassination of Dr. King to the Baltimore riots, [to the Vietnam War], the paper reflected the issues, and Mr. Murphy did a great job of conceptualizing those issues for the community’s understanding.”
In doing so, Murphy followed in the footsteps of his uncle, Carl Murphy, and grandfather, John H. Murphy—the former slave who founded the paper in 1892—both of whom nurtured the AFRO from a one-page weekly church publication into one of the preeminent Black publications in the nation.
Murphy, son of Sarah and Daniel H. Murphy, was born March 2, 1916. After attending public schools in Baltimore, Md., and Philadelphia, Pa., he graduated from Temple University in 1937. He is survived by his two children, Sharon V. Moore and Daniel H. Murphy.
(Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (Baltimore).)