You are currently viewing DAY 5 – SIMEON BOOKER AWARD FOR COURAGE



National Awardee: National Recipient Anthony Ray Hinton spent 30 years on death row in Alabama for a crime he did not commit. “Today, as EJI Community Educator, he’s a tireless and powerful advocate for abolition of the death penalty,” according to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Further, “Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice. I can’t think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton,” asserts Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy and the founder and Executive Director of the EJI.

Hinton’s book, The Sun Does Shine, has been adapted for young readers and has just been released. Click here to hear his June 14, 2022, interview on CBS Mornings where he discusses his life since being released from prison, and what lessons he hopes young people learn from his story.

Local Awardee: Local recipient Virginia “Dee” Banks, M.D., is an infectious disease and internal medicine specialist practicing in Youngstown, OH. Dr. Banks, a  graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in 1974, has been in practice for 43 years. In addition to currently practicing at Northeastern Ohio Infectious Disease Association (NEOIDA) in Youngstown, she has spent the last two years educating the community on COVID-19 and on disparities in access to and delivery of quality healthcare. She has served as Associate Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine at NEOMED; Director of UPMC-HORIZON Wound Care Center; and Director of Division of Infectious Disease at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA.

Date: Thur. Oct. 6 | Location: Chestnut Room at Kilcawley Center at YSU | FREE Program | Time: 7P

Wine and Hors d’oeuvres Reception | Time: 5:30P | Cost: $25 |
Reception Reservations ONLINE  using a debit or credit card or
via mail or in-person, contact Penny Wells at (330) 207-4467 or


Who was Simeon Booker? Simeon Booker was a courageous and pioneering African-American journalist during the Civil Rights Movement who lived in Youngstown, OH, from when he was five until he left Youngstown College after one year in 1938 because African Americans could attend the college but were not able to receive an activities card. His work helped unify the fight for equality. This event was created, in his honor, to celebrate his life-long achievements and to highlight those torchbearers who have risked life and limb in pursuit of the same things Simeon Booker stood for – justice and equality.

Within a few years of its first issue in 1951, Jet, a pocket-size magazine, became the “bible” for news of the civil rights movement. It was said, only half-jokingly, “If it wasn’t in Jet, it didn’t happen.” Writing for the magazine and its glossy, big sister Ebony, for fifty-three years, longer than any other journalist, Washington bureau chief Simeon Booker was on the front lines of virtually every major event of the revolution that transformed America.

Rather than tracking the freedom struggle from the usually cited ignition points, Booker’s Shocking the Conscience begins with a massive voting rights rally in the Mississippi Delta town of Mound Bayou in 1955. It’s the first rally since the Supreme Court’s Brown decision struck fear in the hearts of segregationists across the former Confederacy. It was also Booker’s first assignment in the Deep South, and before the next run of the weekly magazine, the killings would begin.

Booker vowed that lynchings would no longer be ignored beyond the Black press. Jet was reaching into households across America, and he was determined to cover the next murder like none before. He had only a few weeks to wait. A small item on the AP wire reported that a Chicago boy vacationing in Mississippi was missing. Booker was on it, and stayed on it, through one of the most infamous murder trials in U.S. history. His coverage of Emmett Till’s death lit a fire that would galvanize the movement, while a succession of U.S. presidents wished it would go away.

Booker told the story of the century that changed everything about journalism, politics, and more in America, as only Simeon Booker, the dean of the Black press, could tell it.