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MXO ‘The Arts Unplugged’: Longtime Editor Of Ebony Magazine Lerone Bennett Jr. Passed Away!


By Ryan Velez

Posted March 12th 2018


The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a great figure has been lost with the passing of Lerone Bennett Jr. at the age of 89. According to Ebony, where he worked for nearly 50 years, he had vascular dementia. Bennett served as both a journalist and top editor at the magazine, as well as writing several books about Black history. Among his books are “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America” and “The Shaping of Black America.” They drove intellectual debate and have been reprinted multiple times and translated into many languages.

Several pillars of the Black community shared their respects for Bennett via Twitter. The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said, “A classmate & biographer of Dr. King, during the turbulent 60’s, his was a pen that mattered. As a historian, author of ‘Before the Mayflower’, editor of Ebony magazine, the most read voice of the freedom struggle, his impact will long be felt and remembered.”

Mr. Bennett “Set the standard that I and my generation of black journalists strove to reach,” said Alfred A. Edmond Jr., executive editor at large at Black Enterprise.

National Urban League president Marc Morial called him “the great author and editor of Ebony magazine.” Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, Bennett worked at the student newspaper in high school, but shared a turning point in his life with Ebony during his life:

“There were several men in Jackson, Mississippi who had attended Morehouse [College in Atlanta]. I was very impressed with them simply because of the way they responded as men to an intolerable racial situation. They carried themselves as men. They acted as men. Because of that exposure, I decided at 13 that I wanted to go to Morehouse….My mother told me we could handle college within the state or within the city but not somewhere else. I told her I didn’t want to go anywhere else unless it was Morehouse. While at Morehouse I went to school with people like Martin Luther King.” He would edit the newspaper during his time there.

“Lerone worked side by side with my father in establishing Ebony’s voice,” Ebony CEO Linda Johnson Rice said Wednesday. “He was the guiding light for the editorial vision of Ebony. Lerone was not just essential in the formation of Ebony’s historical trajectory, he was a pillar of the Black community.

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