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A pioneering journalist: Thomas Johnson broke the color line in the newsroom.

JOURNALIST THOMAS A. JOHNSON, 79, PASSED AWAY IN June amid a chorus of accolades for his work and his character. The St. Augustine, Florida, native became Newsday's first black reporter in 1963, after having served in the Army and graduating from Long Island University. He also had a stint as a social investigator for New York City's welfare department.

Johnson broke the color barrier again in 1966 as a reporter on the staff of The New York Times, one of the first black journalists to work as a foreign correspondent for a major daily newspaper. His reporting on race relations during the turbulent 1960s, including a series on black soldiers in the Vietnam conflict, earned him numerous honors, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination.

"He was a good reporter in the right place, The New York Times, at the right historical time;' recalls C. Gerald Fraser, a former reporter with The Times. "Tom, as a behind-the-scenes worker, helped many persons get into journalism. He pointed the way or made a call that eased the path," Fraser says. "More important, he wrote stories on persons and events in the black community in a way that The Times had never done, without being simply a black reporter covering black people."


Johnson's contributions to the journalism world also include serving on the founding advisory board of BLACK ENTERPRISE along with the late Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, then Sen. Edward Brooke, and Parks Sausages founder Henry Parks, among others.

Later in life, Johnson created the "Race and the News Media" journalism course at New York University, which is a curricula standard today; helped found one of the first organizations for black reporters; and started his own public relations firm.

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Title Annotation:IN MEMORIAM
Author:Sabir, Nadirah
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:In memoriam
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2008
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