Last week, we lost an exceptional journalist, George E. Curry. Though his death was sudden, Curry lived life to the fullest, right up to the end.
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Feb. 23, 1947, he grew up in a segregated Alabama housing project, eventually becoming a prominent black journalist and editor of the enthusiastic but short-lived magazine Emerge.
Emerge, which at its peak reached a circulation of more than 160,000, gave Mr. Curry his most prominent platform as an editor. The monthly magazine was founded in 1989 by Time magazine reporter Wilmer C. Ames Jr. as a news-oriented rival to Ebony and Essence, older periodicals aimed at a black audience.
Curry ascribed his interest in journalism to his stepfather, who brought home lots of newspapers, according to his biography.
In a story in The Washington Post, it talked about how Curry was multitalented and enjoyed his long career in journalism. George began on a small scale, but over the years, he would become the president of Black Press USA, as well as president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), working with black newspapers across the country.
Mr. Curry, who once reported on racism, poverty and national politics for newspapers such as the Chicago Tribune, most recently wrote a syndicated column that ran in more than 200 black-owned newspapers. At the NNPA, a trade group for black-oriented publications, he was editor in chief of its news service.
But journalism was not the beginning and end for him. The other driving force in his formative years was the battle against segregation.
“I used segregation, as cruel as it was, as a positive factor in my life,” he told the reference guide Contemporary Authors, adding that he refused to drink from “colored” water fountains, The Post reported. “I was determined not to let any system or anyone deter me from reaching my goals.”
He was a lot of things at once — walking in greatness, known and loved by the biggest names from the African-American community, yet he was so down to earth, always within reach of ordinary, everyday people. One day, I walked up to Mr. Curry to say hello, and to tell him about my column, he said, “I read your column all the time, it’s really outstanding.”
In my life, Curry was like a “secret pal.” He syndicated this column in 2009, several years before l knew he had. Calls would come in from readers across America — l thought everyone was reading my column online at The Washington Informer.
Readers began calling from North Carolina, Texas, Kentucky, California, Chicago, Florida and many other places, thanking God for my column: “I’ve been sending your column to my son who is in prison”; “I look for The Informer every week, just so l can read your column!”
Another lady in Raleigh, North Carolina called to tell me how one of my columns, “Fear is Faith in Reverse,” helped her to increase her faith. She said, “I leave this column beside my nightstand, and every time fear comes up in my mind, l read this column.”
It is this steady stream of calls coming in over the years that have encouraged me and caused me to continue my writing with others in mind.
Scripture says, “Your gift will make room for you!” I will be eternally grateful for the kindness George Curry showed me. I owe him a special, heartfelt debt of gratitude for the tremendous impact he made on my life. RIP, my friend.
Lyndia Grant is the host of “Think on These Things,” a talk-radio show on WYCB (1340 AM), Fridays at 6 p.m. Visit her website at www.lyndiagrant.com. Contact her at 202-518-3192 or fanniestelle@yahoo.