Obituary: Charles S. 'Chuck' Stone Jr. / Columnist, professor championed diversity

July 21, 1924 - April 6, 2014


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Charles S. "Chuck" Stone Jr., a prominent and pioneering American journalist who touched and shaped many lives as a big-city newspaper columnist, university professor and a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists, died Sunday at an assisted living facility in Chapel Hill, N.C. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Krishna, who said he had been suffering from congestive heart failure.

Over a long and groundbreaking career at the highest levels of journalism and public debate, Mr. Stone was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen, an aide to Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, D-N.Y., and a man so trusted by the readers of his Philadelphia Daily News column that dozens of homicide suspects insisted in surrendering to him.

Outspoken and at ease in many worlds, Mr. Stone befriended Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Mr. Stone was editor of three of the best-known newspapers published in the nation's black communities, and he was admired by his students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, from which he was retired.

Mr. Stone stood for integration and was committed to diversity, particularly in journalism, including women and all underrepresented ethnic groups.

He covered the White House for the Washington Afro-American, for which he also served as editor, worked for aid agencies in India and Egypt, and was an author of books for adults and children.

For adults, he published "Tell it Like it Is," a compilation of his columns, "Black Political Power in America," and a novel, "King Strut." For children, he wrote "Squizzy the Black Squirrel," designed to be entertaining and instructive.

Bespectacled and bow-tied, he appeared on television talk shows and was one of the first hosts of "Black Perspectives on the News," a PBS show.

Described on one website as the descendant of former slaves in Haiti, Charles Sumner Stone Jr. was born July 21, 1924, in St. Louis and raised in Hartford, Conn., where he attended public schools. After World War II, he received a bachelor's degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and a master's degree in sociology from the University of Chicago.

In the 1950s, he worked overseas for CARE before he was recruited by the New York Age, where he was editor from 1958 to 1960.

After that, he became an official of the American Committee on Africa, and he joined the Afro-American in Washington. In 1963, he became editor-in-chief of the Chicago Defender, one of the best-known and most outspoken of the news outlets that served the black community during the civil rights movement.

Perhaps his greatest impact came in the two decades from 1972 to 1991, when he served the Philadelphia Daily News as a senior editor and columnist.

Writing for the feisty mainstream tabloid at a time of simmering racial tensions, he spoke his mind in about 4,000 columns, taking on such powerful authority figures as Mayors Frank Rizzo and Wilson Goode.

After leaving Philadelphia, he went to Chapel Hill, where he was credited with inspiring many with teaching that quickly won honors.


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