Welcome to the Simeon Booker Group

Talking to Simeon Booker Jr. is a humbling experience for a fellow journalist. Talk to some of his collegiate peers from the 1930s and ’40s, and that humbling feeling increases. This site tells the stories of these students of color growing up in an America mired in the muddy road between slavery and Civil Rights.

The stories show, in many ways, how far we have come as a country. They also show how much further we need to go.

The Simeon Booker Group aims to be a vehicle for those stories and those needs.

Presenting this collection of life stories is one component of what we aspire to do in the name and spirit of Simeon Booker Jr., a remarkable son of Youngstown.

Booker Jr. and a handful of other black journalists braved the back roads of America’s Deep South in the 1950s and ’60s and unearthed dark tales of murder, segregation and other injustices done to blacks at the hands of whites.

These stories fueled the change that led to the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. And Simeon Booker Jr. was willing to risk life and safety to ensure these stories were told.

“Fear never produced progress,” said Booker Jr.

With that legacy as a beacon, I’d like to introduce and welcome you to The Simeon Booker Group. We hope this book will be the first of many projects that shed light on injustices in the spirit of Simeon Booker Jr.’s work.

Todd Franko
Editor of The Vindicator
Founding member of The Simeon Booker Group

The following serve on The Simeon Booker Group:

Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, Youngstown Area Jewish Federation R. Scott Evans, Youngstown State University
June Ewing, Third Baptist Church
Todd Franko, The Vindicator
Bill Lawson, Mahoning Valley Historical Society
Alyssa Lenhoff, Youngstown State University
Deborah Liptak, Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County Janet Loew, Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County Madonna Chrism Pinkard, WFMJ-TV
Tim Seman, Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County David Turner, First Energy
Penny Wells, Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past