Simeon Booker, who courageously reported on the civil rights struggle and was a role model for generations of Black journalists, died on Sunday at the age of 99, The Washington Post reported.

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“I wanted to fight segregation on the front lines. I wanted to dedicate my writing skills to the cause. Segregation was beating down my people. I volunteered for every assignment and suggested more. I stayed on the road, covering civil rights day and night. The names, the places and the events became history,” Booker stated when receiving the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award.

Booker established himself as a top journalist in Washington at a time when leading newspapers had no African Americans on their staff. The Washington Post hired Booker in 1952, making him the newspaper’s first full-time Black reporter. He worked at The Post for two years before joining Johnson Publishing Co. to become the Washington bureau chief for Jet and Ebony magazines. Booker is credited for bringing the brutal killing of Emmet Till to the nation’s conscience. Till was the 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago who was viciously beaten and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, whose death sparked the civil rights movement. Booker’s career spanned 10 U.S. presidents and frontline coverage of the Vietnam War.

Booker is a Baltimore native who was raised in Youngstown, Ohio. After divorcing his first wife, Thelma Cunningham, he married the former Carol McCabe. Booker was married to Carol Booker for 44 years. His survivors include two children from his first marriage, Simeon Booker III and Theresa Booker; and a son from his second marriage, Theodore Booker. He was also the father of Abdul Wali Muhammad (also known as James Booker), from his first marriage who died in 1991. Muhammad served as editor in chief of the Final Call, the Nation of Islam’s newspaper.

SOURCE:  Washington Post

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