January 25th, 2006 06:34 EST
( Atlanta, GA. ) Judyth Piazza's interview with George Curry
George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service and BlackPressUSA.com. His weekly column is syndicated by NNPA to more than 200 African-American newspapers, with a combined readership of 15 million.
Curry’s work at the NNPA has ranged from being inside the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases to traveling to Doha, Qatar to report on America’s war with Iraq. In Doha, he was seen by billions of television viewers around the world, the lone African-American among more than 300 reporters at the daily news briefing. While in the Persian Gulf, Curry obtained the first exclusive interview with Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks after the fall of Baghdad.
Prior to joining the NNPA, Curry was editor-in-chief of Emerge: Black America's Newsmagazine from 1993 until June 2000. He is past president of the American Society of Magazine Editors, the first African-American and non-New York based editor to hold the association's top office.
Before taking over as editor of Emerge, Curry served as New York bureau chief and as a Washington correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Prior to joining the Tribune in 1983, Curry worked for 11 years as a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and for two years as a reporter for Sports Illustrated.
Under Curry’s leadership, Emerge won more than 40 national journalism awards. He did not shirk from controversy at the magazine. Curry published a story about secret medical experiments conducted on African-Americans, ran a cover story asking "Is Jesus Black?" and printed such insightful articles as "Rape of a Spelman Coed." In Curry's boldest move, he commissioned a 1993 magazine cover that depicted U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with an Aunt Jemima-like handkerchief on his head.
He is proudest of his 4-year campaign to win the release of Kemba Smith, a 22-year-old Richmond, Va. woman who was given a mandatory sentence of 24 1/2 years in prison for her minor role in a drug ring. In May 1996, Emerge published a 17-page cover story titled “Kemba’s Nightmare.” Follow-up stories were published in May 1998 and October 1999. President Clinton pardoned Kemba in December 2000, marking the end of “Kemba’s Nightmare.”
As a reporter for the Tribune, Curry covered the 1984 presidential campaign of Jesse Jackson and the vice presidential campaigns of Geraldine Ferraro and the senior George Bush. He accompanied Jackson to Rome in 1985 for an audience with Pope John Paul II. In 1992, Curry covered the presidential campaign of Bill Clinton and the vice presidential campaign of Senator Al Gore.
He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who Among Black Americans, and Outstanding Young Men of America. He is the author of Jake Gaither: America's Most Famous Black Coach (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1977), editor of The Affirmative Action Debate (Perseus Books, 1996), editor of The Best of Emerge, (Ballantine Books, 2003) and editor of an anthology tentatively titled, Fit to Print? Jayson Blair, the New York Times and Twenty-First Century Journalism, to be published in late summer or early fall. Curry also contributed to Walter Mosley’s anthology, Black Genius: African American Solutions To African American Problems (W.W. Norton, 1999).
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Curry graduated from Druid High School of that city and attended Knoxville College in Tennessee, Harvard and Yale. At Knoxville, Curry was editor of the school paper, quarterback and co-captain of the football team and a member of the school's Board of Trustees. In 1986, he wrote and served as chief correspondent for the widely praised television documentary, “Assault on Affirmative Action,” which was aired as part of the "Frontline" series on PBS. He was featured in a segment of "One Plus One," a national PBS documentary on mentoring that was first televised in 1989.
In 1996, Curry was part of the weeklong Nightline special, "America in Black and White." He has also appeared on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, The Today Show, 20/20, Good Morning America, CNN, C-SPAN, BET, Fox Network News and MSNBC. The National Association of Black Journalists named Curry its 2003 "Journalist of the Year." He is on the NABJ’s list of Most Influential Black Journalists of the 20th Century.
After delivering the 1999 commencement address at Kentucky State University, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree. In May 2000, Lane College in Jackson, Tenn. also presented Curry with an honorary doctorate after his commencement speech. Later that year, the University of Missouri presented Curry with its Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism, the highest honor the School of Journalism bestows.
Curry became the founding director of the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop in 1977. Seven years later, he became founding director of the Washington Association of Black Journalists' annual high school journalism workshop. In February 1990, Curry organized a similar workshop in New York City.
Curry’s work with aspiring journalists has not been limited to the United States. He has conducted journalism workshops for teens in Germany and in 1995 he directed a program that brought together college students in the U.S. and those studying journalism in Senegal to produce two newspapers for the African/African-American Summit in Dakar, Senegal
He is a trustee of Knoxville College, the Kemba N. Smith Foundation, St. Paul Saturdays, a leadership training program for young African-American males in St. Louis, and Young D.C., a regional teen-produced newspaper. Curry was also a trustee of the National Press Foundation, chairing a committee that funded more than 15 workshops patterned after the one he directed in St. Louis.