Ohio lawmakers call for Obama to honor famed African-American journalist

Reps. Joyce Beatty and Tim Ryan and Ohio’s two U.S. senators want President Barack Obama to award African-American journalist Simeon Booker with the highest civilian honor bestowed by the president of the United States.

The four led a letter to Obama to give Booker, the first full-time African American reporter at the Washington Post, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Booker got his start writing about the Negro League baseball teams for the Youngstown Vindicator. In 1950, he received the Nieman Fellowship to study journalism.

He later went on to cover the Emmett Till murder and trial, and his coverage helped to spark the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, he rode with the Freedom Riders through the Deep South.

When they were firebombed and beaten by the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, Booker arranged for their rescue by calling U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.

The letter was also signed by both Maryland senators and 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Reps. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland and Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo.

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