June 05, 2014
When Howard University alumni discuss legendary journalism professors, Raymond H. Boone Sr. is at the top of the list. Boone, who died on Tuesday after battling pancreatic cancer, taught at Howard for nearly a decade before starting the award-winning Richmond Free-Press in 1992. He was revered as a tough educator who challenged his students, emphasizing excellence and ethics.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Ray Boone, publisher, editor and teacher, who had a profound impact on the black press, and the national media, using the printed word to convey vital information in the lives of African Americans,” said Gracie Lawson-Borders, Ph.D., dean of the School of Communications.
“Professor Boone was a luminary,” said Naomi Travers, editor-in-chief of The Hilltop, the campus newspaper, from 1987 to 1988, who specializes in media law. “He was the best journalism professor I had at HU and one of the best professors I had university-wide, hands down.”
“I had his copy editing class while at HU — tough class; great professor,” said Christopher Cathcart, president of the One Diaspora Group. “We can all remember a handful of instructors from our college years who made a real impact; Ray Boone was one of them for me.”
“More than any of my HU professors, Boone shaped my career path,” said Nicole Crawford-Tichawonna, associate editor of FierceforBlackWomen.com.
Bishetta Merritt, Ph.D., interim chair of the Department of Media, Journalism and Film, said that “my fondest memories are of working with him on writing a set of bylaws that would address the needs of journalists, scholars and practitioners.”
“He was a phenomenal colleague, a dedicated newsman and an excellent teacher,” Dr. Merritt said. “He made the material come alive.”
Clint C. Wilson II, Ph.D., emeritus professor of journalism and Communication, Culture and Media Studies, said: “Ray was the epitome of a journalistic advocate for African Americans and he spared no one — black, white or otherwise — in his vigorous pursuit of justice and equality for all citizens.”
“I was aware of his reputation as a no-nonsense journalist of character and integrity,” said Lawrence Kaggwa, Ph.D., who hired Boone when he was chair of the Department of Journalism. “He inspired me to start the District Chronicles,” a community newspaper serving the Washington region.
Time and Black Enterprise magazines praised Boone as a pioneering role model for the Black Press. Boone, who was inducted into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame in 2000, was an international correspondent for the National Newspaper Publishers Association and also worked for the Norfolk Journal and Guide, the Quincy (Mass.) Patriot-Ledger and the Suffolk (Va.) News-Herald, his hometown paper.
A Pulitzer Prize juror, Boone received a bachelor’s in journalism at Boston University and a master’s in political science at Howard University. Funeral services are pending, and a memorial is being planned in Washington, D.C., at a later date. Boone, 76, is survived by his wife, Jean, and two children, Regina and Raymond Jr.
“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,’” noted Hazel Edney, president of the Capital Press Club, who teaches journalism at Howard and was part of Boone’s “boot camp” at the Richmond Free-Press.
“By pushing beyond the limits, he used the pen to tear down vestiges of white supremacy, to open doors for the left out, and he fearlessly confronted injustices and racism wherever they raised their ugly heads,” Edney said. “He dedicated his life to this cause.”
John William Templeton, another Boone boot camp survivor and Howard alumnus, evoked the founders of Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper. “I celebrate Ray Boone on his passing for continuing to pass the torch that John Russwurm and Rev. Samuel Cornish lit in 1827 when they proclaimed, ‘We wish to plead our own cause.’”
Greg E. Carr, Ph.D., JD, chair, of the Department of Afro-American Studies, put Boone’s legacy in a global perspective. “He did more than capture the spirit of our people,” Dr. Carr explained. “He held a mirror to our community so that we’d never forget what and who we are and what we must still do and be.”
“There is no higher aspiration or accomplishment for the chronicler.”