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Congressman Tim Ryan

Representing the 13th District of Ohio

Ohio Representatives Tim Ryan, Dave Joyce and Marcia Fudge Introduce Legislation to Award Congressional Gold Medal to Civil Rights Icon Simeon Booker

February 1, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Representatives Tim Ryan (OH-13), Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Marcia Fudge (OH-11) introduced bipartisan legislation today, at the beginning of Black History Month, to award the Congressional Gold Medal to civil rights reporter and icon Simeon Booker in recognition of his achievements in the field of journalism.

“I couldn’t think of a more worthy American than Simeon Booker to be awarded Congress’s highest honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. His long and illustrious career in journalism and his work to advance the civil rights movement has forever changed our nation for the better,” said Rep. Ryan. “Simeon Booker has devoted his life’s work to breaking barriers and changing the hearts and minds of all those he touched through his writing . He is a true American hero."

“Simeon Booker dedicated his career to covering the civil rights movement and achieved many firsts in his field. We're proud that Mr. Booker started his journalism career in Youngstown and believe he's a worthy recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Rep. Joyce.

“Simeon Booker is a highly-respected journalist whose award-winning reporting changed the course of this nation.  Mr. Booker used his pen and pad to shed light on the plight of African Americans and propelled the issues of civil rights, equality, and justice to the world stage. He wrote about what other wouldn’t, went places others didn’t, and spoke for those who couldn’t. I applaud Mr. Booker for his courage. What a fitting way to celebrate Black History Month it would be to award the Congressional Gold Medal to this Ohio legend.” said Rep. Fudge.

Simeon Booker began his career writing about Negro League baseball teams for the Youngstown Vindicator. In 1950, he received the Nieman Fellowship to study journalism and develop his talent as a reporter. After one year at Harvard, Booker became the first full-time African American reporter at the Washington Post. In 1955 he helped advance the civil rights movement with his famous coverage of the Emmett Till murder and trial – turning a common occurrence in the Deep South into a national tragedy that united the African American community. In 1961, he rode with the Congress On Racial Equality (CORE) Freedom Riders through the Deep South; and, when they were firebombed and beaten by the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, Booker arranged for their rescue by calling U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

Simeon Booker is often referred to as the “Dean of the Black Press”. He has covered every presidential election since 1953 and is the author of two highly acclaimed books: Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Man’s America.

His honors and awards include: Nieman Fellowship, Harvard University 1950; elected president of the Capitol Press Club, 1956; Fourth Estate Award, National Press Club, 1982: inducted into Hall of Fame, Washington Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, and Hall of Fame of Washington, D.C. 1984; Master Communicators Award, National Black Media Coalition, 1998; Phoenix Award, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, 2010; inducted into Hall of Fame, National Association of Black Journalists, 2013.