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Wed, 06.19.1918

Vernon Jarrett, Journalist born

Vernon Jarrett

*Vernon Jarrett was born on this date in 1918.  He was a Black broadcast and print journalist. 

Vernon Daurice Jarrett was born in Tennessee; both of his parents were schoolteachers. He attended Knoxville College in Tennessee on a football scholarship and graduated with a bachelor's in history and sociology in 1941. 

He moved to Chicago in 1946 and began his journalism career at the Chicago Defender. He also worked for the Associated Negro Press during the 1940s. For three years, beginning in 1948, he partnered with composer Oscar Brown, Jr. to produce Negro Newsfront, the first daily radio news broadcast in the United States to be created by Blacks.  Jarrett was the first Black syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune, beginning in 1970. During his years at the Tribune, he also was a host on Chicago's ABC-TV station, WLS, where he produced nearly 2,000 television broadcasts. In 1983, he left the Tribune for the Chicago Sun-Times as an op-ed columnist. 

He later became a member of the Sun-Times editorial board and retired from the Sun-Times in 1995. He was the founder of the National Association of Black Journalists and served as its second president. He was the father-in-law of Valerie Jarrett.  Jesse Jackson said, "He was a journalist in the tradition of Frederick Douglas who used a pen to affect public opinion and public policy."  With all of Jarrett’s accomplishments, he was most proud of his work with young people, especially the program he started called ACT-SO, Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics.

The intellectual competition provided thousands of dollars in scholarships for high school students. The program was his heart.  Vernon Jarrett, who worked in newspapers, television, and radio and was an influential commentator on race relations, politics, and African American history, died on May 23, 2004. 

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