Trailblazing reporter Simeon Booker, an award-winning black journalist whose coverage of the Mississippi murder of Emmett Till in 1955 is credited with galvanizing the civil rights movement, receives an honorary Doctor of Letters degree on Sunday, Dec. 15, at Fall Commencement in Beeghly Center.
Born in Baltimore in 1918, Booker moved to Youngstown at the age of seven. After high school, he enrolled in Youngstown College but withdrew after learning that black students at the school were not allowed activity cards. As part of his visit to Youngstown, Booker will be presented with a YSU activity card.
“We are honored to have Mr. Booker return to Youngstown State and to be recognized for the important role he played on the front lines of the civil rights movement in this country,” YSU President Randy J. Dunn said.
Booker, long considered the “dean” of black journalists, went on to become the first black staff reporter at The Washington Post and to work for more than 50 years as Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent for Jet and Ebony magazines, retiring in 2007. He covered murders, marches, sit-ins and freedom rides and twice followed black troops to Vietnam to report on the heroism of soldiers whose rights were still unsecured in their own hometowns.
The student speaker for the ceremony is Rose Bonilla, a communications and journalism major.
While attending YSU, Bonilla studied abroad in Istanbul, Turkey, and interned at The Talent Group in Cleveland and at 21 WFMJ News. She has earned a spot on the Dean’s List each semester and has also received multiple awards, including the Dr. Kathleen Kougl Scholarship in Communication Studies (2013), the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters Scholarship (2012), and the 2008-2009 Resch Student Leadership Award. She has been involved in Lambda Pi Eta, the YSU Latino Organization, Homework Express, co-ed soccer, The News Outlet and The Jambar.