Todd Steven Burroughs has a great review of Simeon Booker’s Shocking the Conscience: A Reporter’s Account of the Civil Rights Movement at Ebony. Booker of course served as Jet's (Ebony’s sister publication)Washington bureau chief for fifty-one years, retiring in 2007.
A testament to his influence and staying power, Booker was recently inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in January. No other reporter covered the White House and the frontlines of the civil rights movement for over a half-century for a national publication. Shocking the Conscience is written in a crisp, journalistic style and gives readers a broad sweep of history, as only Simeon Booker, the dean of the black press, could tell it.
Burroughs writes that Shocking the Conscience “adds to the richness of Civil Rights history because it is told from a fulltime witness” He goes on to praise Booker, saying
Most importantly, this essential book for journalists and Movement history buffs reintroduces the Black fear and (mostly) White racist violence of the time, shoving it back in the face of 21st Century folks who may have grown apathetic, if not simply naive, to it. Booker reminds readers how conservative and afraid the majority of Black people were, once upon a time. Booker boldly covered the Movement, but he knew when to blend in and not be noticed. The fear would be conquered, death by death, inch by bloody inch, and Booker would not only live to tell the tale, but to take a deserved bow, from NABJ, JPC and Black America, for doing it so thoroughly and so well
Last night Booker was in Baltimore for an event at the Enoch Pratt Library. Former Baltimore
Afro-American newspaper reporter Moses Newson was in the audience and
eventually joined Simeon at the head table. Booker and Newson both covered the Emmett Till trial, Little Rock school
integration, and the Freedom Rides. Both men shared their experiences with the
audience and they expressed the greatest mutual admiration and respect for each
|L-R: Jake Oliver, Baltimore Afro-American publisher; |
E.R. Shipp, professor of journalism at Morgan State;
Moses Newson; and Simeon Booker
It was surmised by Carol McCabe Booker (Simeon’s wife and coauthor) that these two men “may be the only reporters—certainly they are the only Black reporters—still alive who covered most of the pivotal events in the civil rights movement.”