Lerone Bennett Jr., journalist and historian of African American life, dies at 89

Historians in the News
tags: obituary, Lerone Bennett Jr

Lerone Bennett Jr., a historian and journalist who chronicled the African American experience in articles and books, including the landmark “Before the Mayflower” and a provocative study that charged Abraham Lincoln with being a white supremacist who had no intention of ending slavery, died Feb. 14 at his home in Chicago. He was 89.

The A.A. Rayner & Sons funeral home in Chicago confirmed his death. Ebony magazine, where Mr. Bennett was a top editor for more than 50 years, said the cause was vascular dementia.

Mr. Bennett, who grew up in segregated conditions in Mississippi, joined Ebony in 1954 and helped make the magazine the country’s largest black-oriented publication, with a circulation at its peak of almost 2 million.

In addition to his work at Ebony, Mr. Bennett wrote books that highlighted the struggles and achievements of African Americans throughout history, beginning with his comprehensive 1962 historical study, “Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619-1962,” which has sold more than 1 million copies. 

“He has reached many people that none of the rest of us have reached,” historian John Hope Franklin said in 1985. “He has done a great deal to advance the cause of Afro-American history.” ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post

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