Virginia Union University alumnus Simeon Booker has been nominated for a Congressional Gold Medal. Congressman Tim Ryan, a native of Booker’s Youngstown, Ohio hometown, is the primary sponsor of House Bill 812. The bill has been co-sponsored by at least 16 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States.
The 98-year-old Booker is considered the “dean” of African-American journalists because of his distinguished career in journalism and his contributions to the Civil Rights movement. He served as the first full-time African-American reporter at the Washington Post in 1952. For more than 50 years, he was Washington Bureau Chief and White House correspondent for Jet and Ebony magazines.
Booker’s coverage of the vicious lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955 mobilized national support for the Civil Rights movement. He was the first African-American reporter to receive a Newspaper Guild Award and the second African-American journalist awarded a Nieman Fellowship in Journalism at Harvard University.
The award-winning journalist and author earned a degree in English from Virginia Union University in 1942 and Virginia Union honored him with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Lifetime of Service Award in January of 2015.