By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Funeral services for Lerone Bennett, Jr., who died on February 14, 2018 at the age of 89, are scheduled for Saturday, February 24, 2018, at the St. Columbanus Catholic Church, 331 E. 71st St., Chicago, IL, where he was married, according to his daughter, Joy Bennett. The wake and funeral are 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., respectively.
Visitation was scheduled Friday, February 23, 2018, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the A.A. Rayner & Sons Funeral Home, 318 E. 71st St.
A prolific and talented writer, historian and author, Bennett was also a founding sponsor of the Washington D.C., Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial Project Foundation and was a founding board member for the National Museum of African-American History Culture.
Mr. Bennett’s 50-year journalism career included the role as executive editor of Ebony. His books and articles delved into the history of race relations in the U.S., but he also focused on the current social maladies in which African Americans continue to fight for parity and equity.
Born on October 17, 1928 in Clarksdale, Mississippi to Lerone and Alma (Reed) Bennett, as a youth, his family moved to Jackson, MS. It was there while attending Jackson’s public schools that Bennett discovered his passion and talent in journalism.
Bennett attended Morehouse College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1949. He always considered Morehouse the center of his academic development, according to his daughter. After graduating, Bennett was hired at the Atlanta Daily World where he became the city editor until 1953.
He began working as an associate editor for Jet Magazine in Chicago and a year later he became an associate editor at Ebony. Bennett was promoted to senior editor of the magazine in 1958 and retired as executive editor Emeritus in 2005. His comprehensive articles became one of the magazine’s literary hallmarks.
His career as an author began with a series of articles that were originally published in Ebony including the book, “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619-1962.” This book quickly gave Bennett the credibility and reputation of a first-class popular historian.
In his eighth subsequent book, Bennett continued to document the historical forces that shaped the Black experience in America. His other works include: “What Manner of Man?” The award-winning biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Pioneers In Protest” and “The Shaping of Black America.” His most recent book, “Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream” (2000), questions President Lincoln’s role as the “Great Emancipator.”
During his journalism career, Bennett received a number of awards like the Literature Award of the Academy of Arts and Letters, Book of the Year Award from Capital Press Club and the Patron Saints Award from the Society of Midland Authors, the “Salute to Greatness Award,” the Carter G. Woodson Medallion of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
In 2004, Bennett received the Distinguished W.E.B. DuBois Scholarship Award of the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists. His articles, short stories and poems have been translated into many languages.
Mr. Bennett was married for 52 years to former journalist Gloria Sylvester until her death in 2009. The couple had four children, Alma Joy, Constance, Courtney and Lerone, III (1960-2013) (Janet), three granddaughters, Nekesa Joy, Imani Nia (Colin) and Maya Gloria.