The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists Mourns the Loss of
Founder Claude Lewis
PHILADELPHIA, PA (March 17, 2017) - The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) mourns the passing of distinguished journalist Claude Lewis. Lewis was one of the founders of PABJ and the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).
Lewis, 82, of Cherry Hill, NJ, died Thursday morning from complications of diabetes.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Claude Lewis,” said PABJ President Melony Roy. “For many Black journalists, he was a pillar of journalism, an icon and a mentor. He made history as the first person of color to write a column for a daily newspaper in Philadelphia. PABJ will continue his legacy of diversifying newsrooms and calling for fair coverage of the African American community.”
Born and raised in New York, Lewis graduated from City College with a degree in English. He worked as an editor and reporter for several newspapers and magazines, including Newsweek, the New York Herald Tribune and the Philadelphia Bulletin. He later taught at Villanova University and wrote a syndicated column for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Claude was just a very special person. He always made himself available especially to black staffers,” said former colleague and NABJ Founder Sandra Dawson Long Weaver. “He truly was a trailblazer and ahead of his time. He brought a passion, a love for the business, humanity, and Black journalists. He will be greatly missed.”
Known as one of the "original three," Lewis along with fellow journalists Chuck Stone and Acel Moore laid the groundwork for and were among the founders of PABJ in 1973.
“As I recall, the very first meeting was held with Acel and Chuck Stone and me,” Lewis said in 2003 on the 30th anniversary of the founding of the organization. “The meeting was brief and we considered it bold back then. An association of BLACK journalists? Wow!”
Two years later, Lewis and many of PABJ's early members formed NABJ in Washington, DC.
"Founder Claude Lewis was a gentle giant and kind soul whose passion for equality and equal opportunity can be seen in his columns and life's work. He had a personal impact on the trajectory of many NABJ members, myself included, showing us all the way," said NABJ President Sarah Glover. "Claude lives on in all of us. I thank him for instilling in me, and my peers, a deep level of tenacity and commitment to the cause.”
Lewis also had an extensive career in broadcasting, writing and producing TV specials and documentaries. In 1982, he founded the country’s first national African-American newspaper, the National Leader.
“If you think back to that period, there weren’t many people doing what we do,” said Michael Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. “There was Acel Moore and Edie Huggins – and there was Claude.”
PABJ would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to the Lewis family, including his wife Beverly and his children. A memorial service is planned for a later date.
The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the development of journalists, students and media-related professionals, and to the promotion of diversity in the media. Formed in 1973, PABJ is the founding chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ).