The Crusader Newspaper Group

Simeon Booker, civil rights journalist for Jet and Ebony, dies at 99

By Emily Langer,

The photographs stunned the country: a 14-year-old boy dead in a coffin, his head crushed, an eye gouged, his body disfigured beyond recognition from an agony in which he was beaten, shot, tied with barbed wire to a weight and submerged in the Tallahatchie River of Mississippi.

The young man was Emmett Till. His murder in 1955 — punishment for the transgression of whistling at or otherwise offending a white woman — became the most infamous of the thousands of lynchings visited upon African Americans in the Jim Crow South. Till’s death galvanized the civil rights movement, but only after Simeon Booker helped deliver the story to a national audience.

Mr. Booker, the Washington bureau chief of Jet and Ebony magazines for five decades, died Dec. 10 at an assisted-living community in Solomons, Md. He was 99 and had recently been hospitalized for pneumonia, said his wife, Carol Booker.


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