Lerone Bennett, former editor for ‘Ebony’ and ‘Jet,’ dead at 89

Bennett reportedly suffered from vascular dementia.

(Photo: WFMT Radio)

Lerone Bennett Jr., the former editor for Ebony and Jet, has died at the age of 89.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebony said that Bennet suffered from vascular dementia.

Bennett worked for Ebony for around half a century, after starting at Jet in 1951 and then moving to the sister publication in 1953. By 1958, he was the executive editor.

“Lerone worked side by side with my father in establishing Ebony’s voice,” Ebony CEO Linda Johnson Rice said Wednesday. “He was the guiding light for the editorial vision of Ebony. Lerone was not just essential in the formation of Ebony’s historic trajectory, he was a pillar in the Black community.”

Lerone Bennett theGrio.com

(Photo: WFMT Radio)

A legacy remembered

In addition to being remembered as an editor for these two magazines, Bennett, a graduate of Morehouse College, is known for his books, many of which cover the Black experience in America and the civil rights movement.

He is perhaps best known for “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America” and “The Shaping of Black America” among this books. These books have been translated into several languages, belying his immense reach and influence.

His other books include “What Manner of Man, a Biography of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” “Forced into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream;” “Black Power USA: the Human Side of Reconstruction, 1867-1877,” and “Confrontation: Black and White.”

He also has his footprints in the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame in Atlanta, which has recognized him as being a “foot soldier” in the civil rights movement.

He was named to President Clinton’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1994 and helped to develop the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

“A classmate & biographer of Dr. King, during the turbulent 60’s, his was a pen that mattered. As historian, author of ‘Before the Mayflower’, editor of Ebony magazine, the most read voice of the freedom struggle, his impact will long be felt and remembered,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said of his passing.