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Chuck Stone, RIP

Chuck Stone

Chuck Stone, a “pioneering black journalist and an influential journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,” died Sunday, April 6, at 89.

Stone served on the North Carolina Writers’ Network Advisory Board and worked as a reporter and editor at several influential black newspapers at the height of the civil rights era, including The New York Age and The Chicago Defender.

From his obituary in the Raleigh News & Observer:

From 1960-63, Stone was editor and White House correspondent for The Washington Afro-American. During that period, he met Philip Meyer, now an emeritus professor at UNC but then a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for Knight Ridder newspapers. Meyer recalled that the he and Stone met when they both moved into a northwest Washington, D.C., neighborhood as part of efforts to integrate it.

Three decades later, Meyer would recruit Stone to Chapel Hill to teach journalism. On Sunday, Meyer recalled his friend’s sense of humor, intellect and his ability to diffuse tension situations. “He was very smart. He could take a long-range view of events,” Meyer said. “He was a great diplomat.”

He was such an effective diplomat that when a group of heavily armed inmates attempted to escape from Philadelphia’s notorious Graterford prison in 1981, they told police negotiators they wanted one thing: Chuck Stone. After two days, he negotiated their surrender, and the six hostages the prisoners had taken emerged alive and unharmed.

They knew Stone from his weekly column in the Philadelphia Daily News, and from his work as one of the first black journalists in the mainstream press.

And any writer can probably relate to this quote from Maria Gallagher, a former Daily News writer: “If he liked you, he loved you. If he didn’t like you, he’d write about you.”

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