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Oral history interview with Simeon Booker, 1971.

Creator: Booker, Simeon, 1918-2017
Project: Black Journalists Oral History Collection.
(see all project interviews)
Phys. Desc. :Transcript: 28 pages Sound recording: 1 sound cassette
Location: Columbia Center for Oral History
Full CLIO record >>

Biographical Note

Simeon Booker was born in Baltimore, Maryland on August 27, 1918. In 1952 Booker became the first full-time black reporter for The Washington Post. He is best known for his coverage of events during the Civil Rights era, including the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, in Jet and Ebony magazines. He was the director of the Washington Bureau for Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. for 51 years until his retirement in 2007. Throughout his career, Booker was honored with numerous awards, including a Newspaper Guild Award, a Wilkie Award, the National Press Club’s 1982 Fourth Estate Award, and induction into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame.

Scope and Contents

Booker discusses his early interest in journalism and his selection as a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University. He describes his experience as the first black reporter at the Washington Post during a time of segregation in the capital city, his experience opening a Washington Bureau for Johnson Publishing Company, Inc., the differences between the black press and the daily press, both in resources and content, how the focus of the black press influences the entire industry; and his book, Black Man’s America (1964). Other topics of discussion include Booker’s coverage of the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, the influence of the black press on black communities, the importance of black ownership in all communication medias, how the black press contributed to social changes and the Civil Rights movement, the ownership of black newspapers, and the regional and community orientation of black newspapers.

Subjects

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