The passing of George E. Curry, a great defender and supporter of the Black Press and an important editor and journalist, was sudden and difficult for me to hear.
I had known Mr. Curry, as I usually called him, for some years. I took a trip with him to Algeria and Western Sahara in North Africa in December 2014. We were part of a delegation that came to visit what has been called “Africa’s last colony” in a trip organized by the Institute of the Black World 21st Century.
Along with legendary journalist Linn Washington from Philadelphia, Mr. Curry and I stayed with a family in the Tindouf refugee camp in Algeria. It was an enjoyable and enlightening trip and Mr. Curry was funny with his Alabama accent, serious as we discussed issues of self-determination for the Saharawi people and connections with Black America and compassionate when we learned the woman who hosted us, who was already a widow, had lost her father. The three Black men who stayed in her home offered her a token of thanks with some money that would help ease her burden.
As was widely reported George E. Curry departed this life Aug. 20 and was 69-years-old. He made an incredible impact on the Black Press through weekly columns and as the leader and editor of Black-owned publications.
There is a difference between Black-owned versus Black-oriented outlets owned by Whites. Mr. Curry knew that and was outspoken about it. He was also clear about calling out Black newspapers that were lackluster or lacking in a commitment to speak the truth, produce a quality product, and stand strong on behalf of Black people.
He was clear: Black newspapers need to stand up for Black people regardless of what White advertisers, Whites in power or what politicians thought. He hated the idea that the Black Press would be relegated to second class status and accept it. When some national research reports came out that were relevant to Blacks, it was not unheard of for Mr. Curry, as editor of the NNPA Newswire, which served 200 Black-owned publications, to say “keep the report unless you give me an advance copy.” He wanted to make sure Black papers would run the news at the same time as their White counterparts.
He had an incredible grasp of Black history and elements of the history, whether it was Supreme Court decisions or the record of political leaders and presidential administrations. He would offer that information in his columns, appearances on radio and television and speeches. His columns were often printed in The Final Call newspaper.
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