Morehouse College Mourns the Loss of Iconic Journalist Lerone Bennett Jr., former executive editor of Ebony and Acclaimed Historian


Lerone Bennett Jr.’49, an award-winning author, social historian, and retired executive editor of Ebony magazine, passed away today in Chicago.

Bennett was a former Board Secretary for the Morehouse College Board of Trustees. He served as editor of Ebony for nearly 40 years documenting the history and lifestyles of blacks in America and beyond.

He honed his journalistic talent at Morehouse College, where he developed a passion for writing, research, and intellectual debate. Bennett served as an apprentice on the Maroon Tiger school newspaper in the 1940s. He was on staff when early writings by Martin Luther King Jr.’48 were published in the Maroon Tiger. Bennett also served as an editor for the newspaper.

After graduating from Morehouse College, Bennett was hired as a reporter at Atlanta Daily World in 1949. He remained at the paper until the early 1950s and relocated to Chicago to serve as city editor for Jet magazine. He was named associate editor of Ebony in 1954, and later was promoted to executive editor.

Bennett’s career catapulted nationally after he wrote “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America” in 1962. The book began as a series of essays in Ebony on race, slavery, and discrimination. It was his first book.

Bennett penned eight additional books, including What Manner of Man?, Pioneers In Protest, and The Shaping of Black America. His articles, short stories, and poems have been translated into five languages.

Throughout his lifetime, Bennett received numerous accolades for his work. He won the “Literature Award” of the Academy of Arts and Letters, the “Book of the Year Award” from Capital Press Club, and the “Patron Saints Award” from the Society of Midland Authors.

Bennett also served as advisor and consultant to several national organizations and commissions, including the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders. He was a former member of the Black Academy of Arts and Letters, the Race Relations Information Center, the Institute of the Black World, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center.

Details on funeral arrangements for Bennett are not yet available.