Booker, Simeon


Good content 1958 letter on JFK from the crusading newspaperman called the “Jackie Robinson of journalism”



Autograph ID: 4343
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1918-2017) Baltimore-born award-winning, crusading, risk-taking African-American journalist whose work appeared in leading news publications for 50+ years. His coverage of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till was called the first great media event of the Civil Rights Movement. Upon graduation from Virginia Union University, he took his first job with the Afro American, later the Cleveland Call and Post, and received a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard in 1950-51. In 1952 Booker became the 1st Black reporter for The Washington Post. He was hired by Johnson Publishing Co. in 1954 to report on current events in the weekly digest, Jet. In 1955, he helped redefine the role of Jet and the entire Civil Rights Movement with his famous coverage of the Emmett Till murder and trial, turning an all too familiar event in the Deep South into a national tragedy that united the Black community. Booker remained in the dangerous front lines of the Civil Rights Movement, reporting on the integration of Central High School in Little Rock in 1957. In 1961, Booker rode with the CORE Freedom Riders through the Deep South. When the buses were fire bombed in Anniston, Alabama, Booker arranged the Freedom Riders’ evacuation by Attorney General Robert Kennedy. In the mid-1960s, he toured Vietnam and interviewed General Westmoreland for Jet. He was also a nationally syndicated commentator for Group W Broadcasting in the early 1970s. Retiring in January 2007 after serving as Johnson Publication’s Washington Bureau Chief for 48 years, Booker had covered every Presidential election since the Eisenhower Administration in his 53 years with Johnson Publishing. He traveled to Africa with Vice Presidents Nixon and Humphrey and Attorney General Kennedy. In 1964, Booker outlined the importance of the Civil Rights Movement in his book, “Black Man’s America”. In 1982, he received the most coveted award in journalism, the National Press Club’s Fourth Estate Award. Jack Nelson, the Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau chief 1975-96, called Booker “the Jackie Robinson of journalism”.

Very good content TLS on 10 ½ x 7 Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. letterhead, Wshington DC, February 24 1958, to a Mr. Harrison who had taken Booker to task for a comment he had made regarding Senator Kennedy being “decidedly unpopular”, and Harrison noting that Kennedy was not unpopular in Massachusetts. Booker responds: “I bow. I was referring to informal polls made of some 42 Negro leaders who had gathered in Washington to discuss Dem [sic] civil rights policy. Across the board with them, Kennedy ran a poor third. They seem to doubt his courage. As for Mass., I suppose the reverse is true. Kennedy is pretty popular.””

Type: Letter

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