Simeon Booker, 97, legendary Jet magazine journalist, received a George Polk Career Award as reported by The New York Times on Sunday, Feb. 14, for his pioneering coverage of the civil rights movement, including the 1955 murder of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicagoan visiting family in rural Mississippi.
Booker’s influence led to Till’s being photographed in his coffin, which produced images that struck the entire nation about the evil that had been committed.
Other awardees of the prestigious Polk awards included seven New York Times journalists for their reporting on the Navy’s SEAL teams as well as four Associated Press reporters, who spent 18 months investigating the fishing industry in Southeast Asia that uncovered widespread abuse.
Carried out by Long Island University, the Polk Awards are named after George Polk, a former CBS News correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the civil war in Greece.
Booker served as the Washington bureau chief of Jet magazine for 50 years, becoming affectionately known as the “Man from Jet.”
His honor sparked congratulations from the Jet magazine blog and esteemed journalists such as Jamil Smith, Gwen Ifill and Sherilynn Ifill on social media.
“These awards speak well of journalists who ply their craft with open eyes — and open minds,” John Darnton, curator of the Polk Awards, told The New York Times.