Pioneering Journalist & NABJ Co-Founder Charles Stone Jr. Dead At 89

April 7, 2014  |  

His name might not be familiar to you, but Charles Sumner “Chuck” Stone, Jr., helped change the face of journalism. The longtime journalist, educator, and co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists has died. He was 89, reports The Grio.

According to his daughter Allegra Stone, her father died April 6th at an assisted living facility in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Many say Stone, who from 1991 to 2004 was a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina, was the driving force behind the NABJ’s creation.

“Chuck chaired the first meeting and became the first president. He provided the rudder that steered NABJ at a time when being a member was not always easy. Some employers back then told members to choose between their jobs and NABJ,” said NABJ’s current president Bob Butler said in a news release.

Stone was also a member of the historic Tuskegee Airman in World War II, as well as a writer and editor at for various black publications in New York, Washington and Chicago during the early 1960s.  He used his writing to push the Kennedy administration toward supporting civil rights. And Stone went onto serve as an adviser to U.S. Rep. Adam Clayton Powell of New York.

One of the greatest impacts he made was as the first black columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News. Stone worked there as a columnist and editor from 1972 to 1991. He tackled such controversial issues as police brutality and racism. While at the paper, he was “so trusted that more than 70 criminal suspects surrendered to him first rather than to police,” reports In addition, he was the editor of the New York Age, the editor and White House correspondent for the Washington Afro-American, and was the EIC of the Chicago Defender.

Stone was also credited with helping to negotiate the release of six guards held hostage by inmates in 1981 at a Pennsylvania prison, reports The Grio.

“I damn near had a nervous breakdown,” Stone later told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I spent two days negotiating and they released the hostages after the second day. So then when people got in trouble and there were hostages . . . they said, ‘call Chuck Stone to get us out of this.’”

Born in 1924 in St. Louis  and raised in Connecticut, Stone graduated from Wesleyan University and earned a master’s degree in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Stone also authored several books, including Black Political Power in America and the novel King Strut.

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