Dynamic journalist and co-founder of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Claude Lewis has passed away at the age of 82.
He leaves behind his wife Beverly, four children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Raised in the Bronx, Lewis got his start in journalism after graduating from City College with a degree in English. He worked in broadcast and for newspapers, becoming the first African-American reporter and columnist for The Philadelphia Bulletin. He also worked for Newsweek, New York Herald Tribune, NBC-TV and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
An instrumental voice in the Civil Right’s era, Lewis would become close with James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Lewis described King, whom he greatly admired, as “a little guy with a lot of energy” who took “personal risks” and kept getting “threats on his life.”
In 1968 at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago a riot broke out that led to Lewis being knocked to the ground and beat by a police officer, which Lewis attributed to his loss of sight in his older years.
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Aside from being a true journalist and kind human being, Lewis was also a loving husband who married his high school sweetheart in October 1953. As a registered nurse, Beverly was also the one taking care of him as he become nearly blind in recent years.
Lewis is most known for being a co-founder of NABJ that was launched to provide programs, services and advocacy for black journalists.
“Founder Claude Lewis was a gentle giant and kind soul whose passion for equality and equal opportunity can be seen in his columns and life’s work. He had a personal impact on the trajectory of many NABJ members, myself included, showing us all the way,” said NABJ President Sarah Glover in a statement.
Forty-two years later and NABJ now holds a yearly convention for professionals, runs a career fair, provides technical training, and awards almost $100,000 yearly in scholarships and internships to college and high school students nationwide.