view counter

A Bid for Congressional Gold Medal

98-year-old Simeon Booker reported — and made — Black History

Simeon Booker has “changed the course of this nation.” Thus says Ohio Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, one of 17 bipartisan sponsors of a bill to honor the 98-and-one-half-year-old with the Congressional Gold Medal.
    The highly respected and award-winning journalist, now a resident of Cove Point in Calvert County, “used his pen and pad to shed light on the plight of African Americans and propelled the issues of civil rights, equality, and justice to the world stage. He wrote about what others wouldn’t, went places others didn’t and spoke for those who couldn’t,” Fudge adds.
    Fudge and the bill’s two other prime sponsors, Tim Ryan and Dave Joyce, represent Ohio, where Booker began his journalism career writing about Negro League baseball teams for the Youngstown Vindicator. In 1950, the Nieman Fellowship took Booker to Harvard to study journalism. After that, Booker became the first full-time African American reporter at The Washington Post. Jet magazine, the pocket-sized bible of the Civil Rights Movement, became his journalistic home for half a century.
     “If it wasn’t in Jet, it didn’t happen. And if it did happen, Jet would tell you the truth about it,” Booker told Bay Weekly for a 2013 story on the publication of his book Shocking the Conscience, a first-hand account of the bloody and brutal fight for Civil Rights.
    “When I started,” Booker said, “blacks did not have anything. It was like slavery had just ended. Didn’t have voting rights.”
    In 1955, Booker helped advance the Civil Rights Movement with his coverage of the Emmett Till murder and trial. In 1961, he rode with the Congress Of Racial Equality Freedom Riders through the Deep South.
    “I couldn’t think of a more worthy American than Simeon Booker to be awarded Congress’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal,” Rep. Ryan said. He “has devoted his life’s work to breaking barriers and changing the hearts and minds of all those he touched through his writing.”
    The nomination must work its way through Congress.