Veteran journalist George E. Curry dies at 69

BY THE FLORIDA COURIER & DAYTONA TIMES STAFF 00-georgecurry02

Renowned journalist George E. Curry died late Saturday evening (Aug. 20), according to his family. Curry also was an author, motivational speaker and media coach. He was 69.

The cause of death was not immediately available. But in April 2015, he wrote about having a heart attack just days after covering and participating in the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” civil rights march in Selma, Alabama.

He most recently was editor and publisher of EmergeNewsOnline.com, an African-American-oriented news website and monthly digital magazine that provides culturally-sensitive news, information and perspectives.

Through his company, George Curry Media, he provided a weekly column to media outlets around the country as well as columns and articles written by prominent Black civil rights activists.

The Florida Courier and its sister newspaper, the Daytona Times, and many Black-owned newspapers published Curry’s well-researched commentaries and columns for decades. His last column entitled, “Baltimore Cops Routinely Violate Rights of Blacks,” focused on the Department of Justice’s stinging assessment of the Baltimore Police Department in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death while in police custody.

Concerned about family

In a column written for the week of August 8, 2016, entitled “Even Funerals Are Not Family Reunions Anymore,” Curry reflected on the impact the death of his family’s elders had on him and his surviving relatives.

“With each passing, the reunions became fewer and fewer, to the point that we don’t hold them anymore,” Curry wrote.

“In recent years, I have said family funerals have become our family reunions. I told it as a joke, but it was the painful truth.

“At my cousin Charlene’s funeral last week, family relations had deteriorated to the point where it was obvious that funerals can no longer be used as family reunions. For a variety reasons, some relatives refuse to speak to others…I have made appeals for a truce, but my cousins are strong-willed and nothing I or anyone else can say will get them to move off of dead center.

“Neither Big Mama nor Aunt Julia Mae would be pleased that our once close-knit family is in shambles. But as long as I have breath in me, I am going to try to get my family back together. I know it’s a very long shot, but I owe that to Big Mama and Aunt Julia Mae to keep trying.”

Award-winning career

Curry’s storied career includes his role as editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Emerge magazine from 1993 to 2000. The magazine won more than 40 journalism awards under Curry’s leadership.

From April 2012 to October 2015, he served as editor of the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s NNPA News Service, a consortium of more than 200 Black Press members around the country.

Alabama native

George Edward Curry was born on Feb. 23, 1947, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. His mother worked as a domestic and his father was a mechanic.

In 1966, Curry moved to New York where he worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) for a year. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in history from Knoxville College in 1970.

He began his journalism career as a reporter for Sports Illustrated magazine in 1970, the second African-American hired by the publication.

He then worked as a beat reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch until 1983. In 1977, he founded the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a training program for aspiring high school journalists.

Curry also worked for the Chicago Tribune as a Washington correspondent, covering political stories such as Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign. From 1989 until 1993, Curry was the New York bureau chief of the Tribune. He then became editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine until it folded in 2003.

Recognized and appreciated

In 2000, the University of Missouri presented Curry with its Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, and in 2003, he was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

In January 2016, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, the nation’s leading advocate for minority advancement in communications.

He also was the author of “Jake Gaither: America’s Most Famous Black Coach.’’

As a journalist, Curry’s work took him to countries all over the world. Just last month, he attended and reported on the AIDS International Conference in Durban, South Africa.

This story will be updated with the time and place for memorial services when that information becomes available.

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