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Oral history interview with Lerone Bennett, Jr. [electronic resource], 1971.

Creator: Bennett, Lerone, 1928-2018
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :sound files : digital preservation master, WAV files (96kHz, 24 bit) Transcript: 28 pages
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Lerone Bennett, Jr. (1928-) was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi on October 17, 1928 to Lerone and Alma (Reed) Bennett. He attended Jackson, Mississippi's public schools; earned a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in 1949 where he majored in political science and economics; and did some graduate study at Atlanta University (Clark Atlanta University). Bennett was editor of the newspaper and yearbook in high school and college. Professionally, Bennett worked as a reporter and City Editor with the Atlanta Daily World (1949-1953). In 1953 he joined Jet magazine as an Associate Editor, and later worked as Associate Editor and then Senior Editor for Ebony magazine. Bennett is the author of several books documenting the black experience in America, including: Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619-1962; The Negro Mood; and What Manner of Man: A Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. He married Gloria Sylvester in 1956 and together they have four children.

Scope and Contents

Bennett discusses his reasons for becoming a journalist, the importance of the black press, the success of sensational news stories, the myth of an objective press, and the necessity of a free press. Bennett expresses his belief that the role of news outlets-print and visual media-is to deliver information about what is going on in local communities as well as information about the economic and political structures that affect the everyday lives of constituents. Bennett also discusses: the failure of mainstream media to cover issues related to the black community and poverty; the role of the black press in covering issues that affect the black community; and the contribution the black press made to the civil rights movement and its general encouragement of political activism in the black community.


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