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Founder of Black New Yorker column inducted into Black Journalists Hall of Fame

Khorri Atkinson | 11/7/2013, 2:28 p.m.
Herb Boyd

Herb Boyd, a veteran and freelance reporter at the New York Amsterdam News and an adjunct Black studies professor at City College of New York, is one of eight legendary African-American journalists who will be inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Hall of Fame. This is the association’s highest honor.

Boyd, 75, who has been writing for the Amsterdam News for 28 years, will be honored at the association’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony and reception, which is slated to be held on Jan. 16 at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. NABJ is the largest journalism organization of color in the nation. It honors renowned African-American journalists who have made significant contributions to the journalism industry through their outstanding coverage of the Black community. 

“Any award I’ve ever received has come as a total surprise, if not absolute shock. It took me a while to digest this one, and when the call came, I thought it was one of my friends playing a practical joke on me,” said Boyd, in an email to the AmNews. “When you receive such a stunning award this late in life, particularly a Hall of Fame induction, there’s a tendency on my part to think that I’ve done all that I can, but I still have some fire in the oven, even if there’s a little snow on the mountain.”

Boyd is also a published author. His book, “Baldwin’s Harlem,” was a finalist for a 2009 NAACP Image Award. He won an American Book Award for “Brotherman—The Odyssey of Black Men in America” in 1995. Boyd said that while growing up, he was inspired by former Ebony magazine editor Era Bell Thompson. Boyd also had the privilege to fly on Air Force One with President Barack Obama, whom he has interviewed on numerous occasions. 

“It was never in my intention to be a journalist. My dream was to write the great American novel,” said Boyd. “I’ve been writing professionally for more than 50 years, and most of it has been journalism, a field I landed in mostly by default. Folks would ask me about things I attended, and my descriptions, according to them, were so informative they thought I should write them up. I gave it try, and I haven’t stopped since.” 

NABJ has inducted 55 journalists since 1990, including CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Ed Bradley in 2011 and former NBC News anchor Sue Simmons in 2013.

“The board received a stellar group of recommendations. We are privileged to bestow honors on such an elite group of journalists,” said NABJ President Bob Butler in a statement on Monday.

The NABJ Hall of Fame inductees are named by the Board of Directors upon recommendations from the association’s Hall of Fame committee. “The 2014 inductees represent an all-star and diverse assembly of journalism professionals,” the statement reads. The other honorees include Ernest Dunbar (posthumous), a New York City pioneer journalist, editor and author; Jay Harris, former chairman and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News; Moses Newson, a renowned journalist who covered various events during the civil rights era, such as Emmett Till’s murder trial, school desegregation in Little Rock and the 1961 Freedom Rides; Zelda “Jackie” Ormes (posthumous) (1911-1985), who worked as a writer and cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Courier; Bernard Shaw, a former reporter at CNN, CBS and ABC News;  Lee Thornton (posthumous), the first African-American woman to cover the White House regularly for CBS and a former journalism educator at the University of Maryland and Howard University; and Maureen Bunyan, veteran and Emmy Award-winning television news broadcaster, a primary anchor for ABC 7 one of the 44 founders of NABJ.