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Sat, 07.27.1918

Simeon Booker, Journalist born

Simeon Booker

*Simeon Booker was born on this date in 1918.  He was a Black journalist.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was the second of four children born to Simeon Saunders Booker, Sr., and his wife, Roberta.  When he was five years old, he moved with his family to Youngstown, Ohio, where his father opened a YMCA for Blacks.  As a high school student in Youngstown, some of Booker's stories were published in the Baltimore Afro American newspaper.

He graduated from high school and enrolled at Youngstown College but transferred to Virginia Union University. He earned money during college by providing publicity for Virginia Union's sports programs.  Booker returned to Youngstown during summer vacations and published articles about the Negro League baseball games there.  Upon graduating with a degree in English, he took his first job with the Afro American and later returned to Ohio and worked for the Cleveland Call and Post.  Booker was offered a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 1950–51.  In 1952, he became the first Black reporter for The Washington Post.

Booker was best known for reporting during the 20th-century civil rights movement while working for Jet and Ebony magazines.  His coverage of the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi and the subsequent trial is one of the era's most noted American pieces of journalism.  His first marriage to Thelma Cunningham ended in a divorce. In 1973, he married Carol McCabe; his children are Theresa, Simeon, Jr., James, and Theodore.  During his long career, he was recognized by his peers with numerous awards, including the Newspaper Guild Award and a Wilkie Award.

In 1982, he became the first African American journalist to win the National Press Club's Fourth Estate Award for lifetime contributions to journalism.  Booker retired in 2007 at 88 after serving as Jet's Washington Bureau chief for 51 years.  In 2013, Booker was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.  In 2015, he was awarded the George Polk Career Award.

In 2017, U.S. House of Representatives members introduced a bipartisan bill nominating Booker for a Congressional Gold Medal.  Simeon Booker died on December 10, 2017, in Solomon’s, Maryland, from pneumonia-related complications, at the age of 99.

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