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Claude Lewis: Journalism Pioneer and NABJ Co-Founder Dies

Claude Lewis, National Association of Black Journalists and Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists co-founder passed away Thursday.
Image: Claude Lewis.
Claude Lewis, co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.National Association of Black Journalists

Claude Lewis, co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists passed away from complications of diabetes at age 82 on Thursday according to the organization.

A New York City native, Lewis graduated with a degree in English. He started his career as a reporter and in 1967 made history, becoming the first African American columnist in Philadelphia writing for the ‘Evening Bulletin.’ As a pioneering journalist, he covered the civil rights movement and interviewed civil rights leaders Malcom X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as icons Langston Hughes and James Baldwin.

During a time when black faces weren't common in the newsroom, Lewis recognized the need for more opportunities for current and aspiring journalists in the field. In 1973, he co-founded the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, a founding chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists that would come two years later. Today, NABJ is one of the largest journalism organizations in the country providing career support and resources to journalists of color. Making history again in 1982, he founded the first national African American newspaper ‘The National Leader.’

NABJ President and Social Media Editor for NBC Owned Stations Sarah Glover remembers Lewis as a "gentle soul and quiet man with a boisterous spirit in his journalistic voice" that made an impact.

"He stood up and started his career at a time where there weren't that many black journalists in the media in significant roles like his, but he had an important and powerful voice that he used to make sure the coverage was fair and balanced," Glover said. "He was an extraordinary journalist, not just a black journalist. What makes me proud is that he was a multimedia journalist before there was a such a thing."

Other journalists took to social media to remember Lewis.

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