Ms. Senior District of Columbia Emma P. Ward donates books to the new Charnice Milton Community Bookstore in Southeast on May 17. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
Ms. Senior District of Columbia Emma P. Ward donates books to the new Charnice Milton Community Bookstore in Southeast on May 17. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Charnice Milton was a bookworm, her father said.

She read incessantly, educating herself not only to become an outstanding journalist, but a civic-minded individual who enjoyed life, he said.

Now, thanks to her father, Kenneth McClenton, officials at We Act Radio and others, the new Charnice A. Milton Community Bookstore has started accepting book donations. On Saturday, May 27, a kickoff event is planned in honor of the slain journalist who died after being shot two years ago as she waited for a bus in Southeast.

“My daughter would be absolutely astonished, thankful and gratified to know that there’s a bookstore named in her honor,” McClenton said as he prepared to attend a news conference to announce the new bookstore. “She spent much of her life reading in book stores and libraries. She had great passion for reading so she would love for individuals to be able to share her great love and great gift.”

Kenneth McClenton (center) and Francine Milton present Kymone Freeman with two of Charnice Milton’s favorite books for the Charnice Milton Community Bookstore housed in the We Act Radio building in southeast D.C. on May 17. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Milton had been on assignment covering a community event the night someone on a motorbike shot her.

Reportedly, the target of the shooter wasn’t Milton, but the target used the young journalist’s body as a human shield. Police still haven’t solved the case.

Metropolitan Police Department Cpt. Anthony Haythe said the case is still very much open and the manhunt continues for the assailant.

“To have a detective call and say she’d been shot, I was stunned,” said Andrew Lightman, Milton’s editor and mentor at Capital Community News.

Lightman joined several others at the bookstore announcement and noted his late employee’s zeal and the effect she had on others.

“The one thing that I thought was important to me when she died was that people in our profession understood that we lost one of our own,” Lightman said. “She worked very hard and she had to overcome being shy among other things.”

For Kymone Freeman, co-founder of We Act Radio, Milton’s legacy counted as paramount and her memory and all she stood for has led to the opening of the bookstore at 1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE.

“What do you think she was doing just before she was shot? She was probably reading at that bus stop,” he said. Freeman began collecting books in February through D.C. Prep’s Bookapalooza drive.

With about 300 books now in the basement of his radio studio on MLK Avenue, Freeman’s mission includes collecting many more books and raising enough money to renovate the space for the bookstore.

“Charnice was a reader and she loved the area,” Freeman said. “When I found out that there was no bookstore east of the [Anacostia] River, I knew we had to do something about that because we have the most children east of the river and we also have a high illiteracy rate, so there should be a bookstore.”

McClenton said his daughter would stay up many nights making sure that her articles were correct and then making sure to read something.

“She had a passion for reading and writing,” he said. “I’d be up with her late at night and she’d ask me to look over things that she’d written to make sure there were no errors.”

Naturally, he’s hoping that police can finally crack the case. To do that, someone has to evoke his daughter’s courage of not being in fear of retaliation and practicing what she preached, he said.

“She was sincere and honest to a fault and no matter how tough things were, she would sit down with me and she would buckle up and move on,” McClenton said.

He still leaves two lights on his house since Milton’s death.

“We leave the light on in the living room which we always did so we would see when she’d come through the door after covering a community event,” McClenton said. “And we leave a light on in her bedroom where she’d do four or five stories and stay up until 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. to make sure that every ‘I’ was dotted and every ‘T’ was crossed. She presented the truth rather than any biased opinion. I enjoyed reading her material and making her a cup of mocha latte as she finished up early in the morning.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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