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Chuck Stone, whose career spanned journalism, academia and politics, died Sunday. He was 89 and had congestive heart failure, his daughter Krishna told The Washington Post.
Until 2004, Stone was a journalism professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where Andrea Weigl reports he “became known around campus for his stylish attire, his morning commute on a bicycle and his popular class on censorship that he called ‘dirty books and dirty pictures,’ one that always had a waiting list.”
Before academia beckoned, Stone was a journalist at black newspapers and a towering columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, “the most influential journalist in Philadelphia,” former Editor Zack Stalberg said. On several occasions, John F. Morrison writes, police called Stone into dicey situations: An armed robbery where the suspects requested his presence at a standoff, and a prison incident in 1981, during which he helped negotiate the release of several hostages.
“If he liked you, he loved you,” former Daily News writer Maria Gallagher told Morrison. “If he didn’t like you, he’d write about you.”
Stone co-founded the National Association of Black Journalists and was its first president. “NABJ has been able to sustain itself because we had a great foundation,” fellow founder Allison Davis told NABJ. “Despite our lack of email, we had Chuck’s mighty pen. I must have received at least three letters a week from Chuck with instructions.”
“For 20 years, Stone’s face, staring out at me from the pages of the newspaper, communicated what was possible,” Daily News columnist Solomon Jones writes. “That face—with skin a little darker than that of the other columnists—told me that journalism was an option for me. Adorned with glasses, and an intellect that shone brightly, that face showed me that a black man could be celebrated for his mind.”
Correction: This post originally said Stone was still teaching at UNC. He retired in 2004.