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Pioneering black journalist Simeon Booker dies at age 99

by Associated Press /
Image: Journalist Simeon Booker is presented with a Phoenix Award
Journalist Simeon Booker, center, is presented with a Phoenix Award by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington on September 2010.Ann Heisenfelt / AP file

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WASHINGTON — Simeon Booker, a trail-blazing journalist and the first full-time African-American reporter at The Washington Post, died Sunday at the age of 99, The Post reported.

Booker died in Solomons, Maryland, according to The Post, citing his wife, Carol.

Image: Simeon Booker
Journalist Simeon Booker, center, is presented with a Phoenix Award by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington on September 2010.Ann Heisenfelt / AP file

Booker served for decades as the Washington bureau chief for the African-American publications Jet weekly and Ebony monthly. He was credited with bringing to national prominence the death of Emmett Till, the 14-year old African-American boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi became a galvanizing point for the nascent civil rights movement.

At a time when few black reporters were assigned in Washington, Booker covered 10 U.S. presidents and traveled to Southeast Asia to report on the Vietnam War, The Post said.

Booker was born in Baltimore and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. He joined The Post in 1952, but he moved on two years later to found the Washington bureau for Jet and Ebony.

"From an early age, I knew I wanted to be a writer," Booker told The Vindicator newspaper of Youngstown in 2013. "Teaching and preaching were the best advances for blacks at the time. But I wanted to write."

In 2016, he received a George Polk Award in Journalism for career achievement.

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