Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton to Memorialize Legendary Journalist George Curry


George E. Curry will be memorialized this weekend by the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton at services in his native Tuscaloosa, Ala., his fiancee, Ann Ragland, told Journal-isms on Tuesday.

The funeral for the champion of the black press is scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Weeping Mary Baptist Church, 2701 20th St., Tuscaloosa. A viewing on Saturday takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sharpton is to give the eulogy. The church holds about 1,000 people, Ragland said by telephone.

A viewing is also planned for Friday, starting at 12:30 p.m. with Jackson speaking on a program beginning at 7 p.m. at Elizabeth Baptist Church, 2650 Elizabeth St. Ragland said other potential speakers were trying to adjust their schedules to appear.

Curry had appeared on Sharpton’s radio show on Friday, the day before his death, Hazel Trice Edney reported Tuesday for the Trice Edney News Wire.

” ‘When I started my daily radio show 10 years ago, I asked him to close the final hour every week on Friday,’ Sharpton recalls. ‘About a month ago, he went away for two weeks. He came back last Friday. We teased him [saying] he had rarely missed a Friday. We talked about the elections and everything and the next day he died, which was shocking to me.’

“Sharpton said Curry’s legacy ‘is integrity, is boldness, is holding people — including Black leaders that were his friends — accountable. And defending us when we deserved it.’ . . .”

Curry, who died Saturday of heart failure at age 69, was known foremost as editor of the late Emerge magazine, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service, as a weekly columnist for the black press and as a mentor to younger black journalists.

Curry, standing, in a photograph published April 25, 1968 (Credit: Knoxville News Sentinel archive)
Curry, standing, in a photograph published April 25, 1968 (Credit: News Sentinel archive)

While he wanted his funeral in his hometown, so many admirers wanted a memorial service in Washington that Ragland said she would arrange one there in “a couple of months.”

News outlets in the cities that Curry touched — Knoxville, Tenn.; St. Louis; Chicago; Washington; and New York — all published staff-written obituaries with local angles.

The Knoxville News Sentinel, for example, published a photograph that appeared on April 25, 1968, showing Curry as a Knoxville College student with Avon Rollins of the Tennessee Valley Authority and Rabbi Max Zucker at a meeting of the Knoxville Roundtable of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

Curry and Rollins told the conference that the city of Knoxville is allowing racism and injustice to continue,” the caption said. “‘We’re tired of your lip service and inaction and civil rights bills with loopholes. We had a civil rights bill in 1866. Why don’t you enforce the ones you have?,’ Curry said. . . .”

Obituaries in the New York Times and the Washington Post Monday emphasized Curry’s Emerge service. William Grimes of the Times wrote that Curry “turned Emerge into a provocative, must-read newsmagazine for black readers in the 1990s.”

Harrison Smith added in the Post, “Emerge also drew detractors such as the conservative Weekly Standard, which noted the black publication’s tendency to cover stories with a conspiracy-minded tinge involving the CIA and the FBI. ‘Emerge has become one of the chief propounders of the idea that the white establishment consciously uses government authority to harass, persecute, and downgrade American blacks,’ the Weekly Standard reported in 1997. . . .”

A story Sunday by Tony Briscoe of the Chicago Tribune, where Curry had been a reporter and New York bureau chief in the 1980s, included a photo of Curry as a reporter there. It introduced Curry as one “whose dogged reporting and unabashed commentary on the nation’s race relations earned him critical acclaim.”

Curry at the Chicago Tribune in the 1980s
Curry at the Chicago Tribune in the 1980s

For the NNPA News Service, Stacy M. Brown noted Tuesday, “Freddie Allen, the managing editor of the NNPA News Wire, called Curry an icon in the Black Press and said that his legacy of mentoring young journalists will bear fruit for many years to come.

“Recently, Allen and Curry were part of a Black media delegation that worked with the Black AIDS Institute to cover the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. . . .”

Brown also wrote that Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, “said the next issue of the Black AIDS Institute newsletter will be dedicated to George and four of the last articles he wrote will be republished. Also, the entire website will be converted as a tribute to George Curry. . . .”

Roland Martin and his guests paid homage to Curry Monday during a special edition of TVOne’s“NewsOne Now.

Among the participants was Kemba Smith, who served six years of a 24-year mandatory minimum sentence for conspiracy to participate in her boyfriend’s drug activities. Her case was profiled in Emerge. She was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

“George dealt with issues that sometimes people did not want to face or deal with and so I’m very grateful, he’s changed my life tremendously because of this story,” she said.

Also on the show were Ed Gordon, who hosted BET’s “Lead Story,” where Curry was a panelist,Lauren Victoria Burke, Hazel Trice Edney, Spencer Overton and Clarence Page.

Comments are closed.