Mr. George Curry, Black Press Champion, Dies At 69.


George Curry during Press Conference Unveiling AIDS in Black Face: 25 Years of an Epidemic - June 5, 2006 at Open Society Institute in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Tim Grant/WireImage for BET Productions)

George Curry during Press Conference Unveiling AIDS in Black Face: 25 Years of an Epidemic – June 5, 2006 at Open Society Institute in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Tim Grant/WireImage for BET Productions)

From The Root.com

George Curry, Black Press Champion, Dies at 69

The journalist was reviving the award-winning Emerge magazine at the time of his death.


George E. Curry, a veteran journalist who championed the black press and was reviving online his beloved Emerge magazine, died Saturday at 69, according to a message from his sister’s Facebook account.

“It is with deep regret to inform everyone that my brother, George passed away earlier today,” said the message, from the account of Christie Love.

“It was a shock to our family and we are dealing with the news, as best we can. R.I.P. brother George Curry.” Curry lived in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Hazel Trice Edney, publisher of the Trice Edney News Wire, reported Sunday that Curry “died suddenly of heart failure.

“Rumors of his death circulated heavily in journalistic circles on Saturday night until it was confirmed by Dr. Bernard Lafayette, MLK confidant and chairman of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference shortly before midnight.

” ‘This is a tragic loss to the movement because George Curry was a journalist who paid special attention to civil rights because he lived it and loved it,’ Lafayette said through his spokesmanMaynard Eaton, SCLC national communications director. . . .” Edney noted the popularity of his weekly columns in the black press.

Curry was twice editor-in-chief of the news service created by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, trade organization for the black press, but left in October after NNPA cut Curry’s salary in half in response to financial problems.

He then turned his attention to creating an online version of Emerge magazine, for which he was editor-in-chief from 1993 until its final issue in June 2000. A GoFundMe drive had raised $16,088 of its $100,000 goal. The site posted eight articles on Friday.

Emerge was best known for its cover stories on Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one showing the justice sporting an Aunt Jemima knot and the second depicting him as a lawn jockey for the far right. Curry wrote that the covers “were effective because in the minds of many Blacks disgusted with Thomas’ voting record, that’s exactly what he is. And we had the temerity to say it.” Emerge aimed to be the political-magazine counterpart to Ebony, Jet, Essence and Black Enterprise.

“Emerge covered the most important people, topics, and turning points of this remarkable period in penetrating articles by an all-star cast of writers, including Nelson George, Les Payne, Thulani Davis, Ralph Wiley, Jill Nelson, Tananarive Due, and Trey Ellis,” read a promotion on the cover of “The Best of Emerge Magazine,” a 2003 collection that Curry edited.

Another standout was “Kemba’s Nightmare,” a 1997 account by Reginald Stuart.

It “was about an extremely sheltered, straight-A high school student from Richmond who went to college and fell in love with a drug dealer,”Courtland Milloy wrote that year in the Washington Post. “Arrested and convicted of conspiracy to traffic in cocaine, Kemba [Smith] — a first-time offender who prosecutors admit never actually touched the stuff — went to prison in 1995 under federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws for 24 1/2 years without parole. She was 24 years old. . . .”

Although he had left NNPA, Curry continued to champion the black press.

Last month, he challenged a New York Times story on black media, saying ownership, not customer base, is the relevant issue.

The larger failure was not addressing the importance of Black-owned and operated media. . . . The issue is not race or ethnicity per se — it’s an issue of trust. African Americans trust the Black Press and distrust the White-owned corporate media. . . .”

In 2003, Curry was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists for his work with the black press, and in accepting, delighted NABJ’s Dallas convention audience with impressions of Jesse Jackson and James Brown. He had long covered Jackson, especially during Jackson’s presidential campaigns of the 1980s.

Curry also co-founded the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists and founded the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a training program for aspiring high school journalists that was replicated in other cities; was the first African American president of the American Society of Magazine Editors; and, through his George Curry Media, syndicated his columns. He was also active on the speakers’ circuit.

TheHistoryMakers has posted this biography:

“George Edward Curry was born on February 23, 1947, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama; his mother worked as a domestic and his father was a mechanic. Curry’s father abandoned the family when Curry was just seven years old, leaving him to step into the role of the man of the house, assisting his mother in raising his three younger sisters. In 1965, Curry earned his high school diploma from Druid High School, where he was a member of the football team and sports editor of the school newspaper.

“In 1966, Curry moved to New York where he worked for The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for a year. Curry earned his bachelor of arts degree in history from Knoxville College in 1970. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, Curry began his professional journalism career as a reporter for Sports Illustrated magazine in 1970; he was the second African American hired by the publication.

“After leaving Sports Illustrated in 1972, Curry headed west and worked as a beat reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch until 1983. In 1977, he founded the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a training program for aspiring high school journalists; that same year, he wrote his first book Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach.

“From 1983 until 1989, Curry worked for the Chicago Tribune as a Washington Correspondent, covering political stories such as Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign. From 1989 until 1993, Curry worked as the New York bureau chief of the Tribune. From there, Curry served as editor-in-chief ofEmerge magazine until it folded and printed its final edition in 2003; under his leadership the magazine won more than forty national journalism awards.

“In 2003, Curry became editor-in-chief for the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, or NNPA, and BlackPressUSA.com; his weekly syndicated column appeared in more than two hundred African American newspapers. While at NNPA, Curry’s work has included covering the Supreme Court’s decision on the University of Michigan’s affirmative action case and America’s war with Iraq.

“In 2003, Curry was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists; he is also on NABJ’s list of Most Influential Black Journalists of the 20th Century.”

Last year, Curry wrote about the heart attack he sustained after covering and participating in the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Ala.

At the urging of‘Uncle Mike’ Fauvelleof Setauket, N.Y., I am writing about my second close call with death, hoping that it, too, will prompt you to not only pay closer attention to your health, but be aware of the small signs of trouble and do something about it immediately if you sense something is awry,” he wrote.

Thank you The Root.com & RICHARD PRINCE

We lost a valuable brother today, the great George Curry

George E. Curry (February 23, 1947 – August, 20, 2016) was an award-winning journalist, keynote speaker, moderator, and a media coach. Considered dean of Black press columnists, Curry’s weekly commentaries enjoyed wide syndication. He died of heart failure on Saturday, August 20, 2016.


Early life

George E. Curry was born Feb. 23, 1947, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Martha Brownlee and Homer Lee Curry. His mother was a domestic worker and his father was a mechanic. George Curry attended Druid High School. He was a member of the school Board of Trustee and also editor of the school paper. After graduating high school, he attended Knoxville College in Tennessee. He was the quarterback and co-captain of the football team and the editor of the school paper for the sport section. He studied at Yale and Harvard University during two summers while still attending Knoxville College.

Career life

During his early life Curry worked for Sports Illustrated and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His first year at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he had twenty-five stories on the front page. In 1983 he joined the Chicago Tribune where he focused on the interest of the African American community. In 1984 he covered the presidential campaign that included Jessie Jackson and vice-presidential campaigns of Geraldine Ferraro and George Bush, Senior. The second presidential campaign was in 1992 with Bill Clinton and vice-presidential campaign of Al Gore.

In 1993 Curry published a bold depiction of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with an Aunt Jemima handkerchief on his head on the front cover. He served as New York bureau chief as a Washington correspondent. He also served as chief correspondent of Assault of Affirmative Action, a television documentary. In May 1996, Curry published a 17 page cover story entitled, “Kemba’s Nightmare”. It was about a girl who had been sentenced to 24 years in prison for a minor drug incident. President Clinton pardoned her in 2000 after hearing and talking with Curry. In 1999 he delivered the commencement address at Kentucky State University. From 1993 to 2000 he was editor-in-chief of Emerge. This magazine won over 40 national journalism awards while under Curry’s leadership. His work with NNPA ranged from hearing oral arguments in the Supreme Court to visiting Doha, Qatar to write about the war with Iraq.

During the fall of Baghdad he got the first exclusive interview with General Vincent Brooks. Curry was the past president of the American Society of Magazine Editors. In 2001 he became the editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service in Washington, D.C. The column he wrote weekly for NNPA is published to more than 200 African-American newspapers. On March 15, 2007, Curry announced that he was going to resign as editor-in-chief of NNPA’s news service. He delivered the George E. Kent Lecture, an annual speech. He was invited by the Organization of Black Students Curry was the founding director of the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop and of the Washington Association of Black Journalist. He was a trustee on many boards such as: Knoxville College, the Kemba N. Smith Foundation, St. Paul Saturdays, and Young D.C.


George E. Curry appeared on the following television shows: PBS, CBS Evening News, ABC’s World News Tonight, The Today Show, 20/20, Good Morning America, CNN, C-Span, BET, Fox Network News, MSNBC and ESPN. He traveled across the world to places such as: Rome with Jessie Jackson to see Pope John II, Germany, Egypt, England, France, Cuba, Ghana, Nigeria, Mexico, Canada, and Italy. Curry is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who Among Black Americans, and Outstanding Young Men of America.


  • Named Journalist of the Year by the Washington Association of Black Journalists, 1995
  • National Urban Coalition award, 1982
  • “Excellence in Journalism” from Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists, 1982
  • Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists, 2003
  • Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Kentucky State University
  • Honorary Doctorate from Lane College
  • Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Missouri (highest honor the School of Journalism gives out)


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