Bernal E. Smith II, publisher of the Tri-State Defender newspaper in Memphis, died Sunday, the paper is reporting on its website.
He was 45 years old. A family spokesperson issued a news release stating that Smith died at his home and was with family members when he was found.
The Tri-State Defender has been covering the news and issues that are important to African-Americans in the Mid-South since 1951.
Smith took over as publisher in 2010.
According to Smith’s LinkedIn profile, he was a graduate of Rhodes College and Union University, and had held board positions with the Greater Memphis Chamber and 100 Black Men of Memphis.
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Smith was “a tireless advocate for economic and social justice in Memphis … I greatly respected his voice in our city. Our prayers are with his family.”
“Bernal Smith was a strong voice for African-American business and culture,” Rep. Steve Cohen said. “Bernal published the historic Tri-State Defender and carried on its tradition as a beacon for social and economic justice in Memphis and everywhere. His untimely death leaves a void in his family and the lives of his many friends. My thoughts are with his family in this most difficult time.”