Chuck Stone, UNC Professor And Pioneering Journalist, Dies

Apr 7, 2014

Former UNC Journalism Professor Chuck Stone died Sunday. He was 89.
Credit University of North Carolina

A much-admired former journalism professor at UNC-Chapel Hill died Sunday. 

Charles Sumner "Chuck" Stone, Jr. taught at the university from 1991 until he retired in 2005.

Stone was one of the founding members of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and he was the first African American columnist at the Philadelphia Daily News.

Long before he began his teaching career, he served as one of the Tuskegee Airmen.  In an interview with UNC-TV in 2004, he recalled that there weren't many people who had confidence that black men could fly Air Force fighter planes.

'Mrs Roosevelt had to come down there and fly in a plane to convince America that the black guys could fly.' - Chuck Stone

"Colonel Patterson -- the guy who took over Tuskegee -- told them that.  He said, 'I'm here to train you guys.  I know you can't fly... you don't have the intelligence.'  Mrs Roosevelt had to come down there and fly in a plane to convince America that the black guys could fly.  A lot of people just didn't think they had the intelligence," Stone said.

Stone served as a special assistant to Adam Clayton Powell -- the first black New Yorker to be elected to Congress.  Stone was also an associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  In the UNC-TV interview, he talked about his pre-journalism career nearly taking a turn at the request of Dr. King.

"In 1967 in Chicago, Martin Luther King offered me the job as executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference," said Stone. "You know why I turned it down?  I said Martin, where would I work?  The national headquarters. Where?  In Atlanta.  I said, "No way... I'm not going to work in the South.' And I turned the job down.  I said, 'Martin, I'll never live in the South.'"

Stone came to UNC Chapel Hill as a Journalism Professor in the early 1990s. 

Anthony Wilson is an Anchor and Reporter at WTVD, ABC 11 in Durham. He remembers Stone as a friend and mentor..

“If I were assigned a story that Chuck had some insight about, we’d go to his house, go to his office, do an interview.  That would be the formal part," said Wilson.  "After we finished doing that, we would have great conversations about the business in general.”

Stone worked for several influential black newspapers during the Civil Rights era, including The Chicago Defender.  He would eventually work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. 

Stone is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Chicago, where he earned a Master's Degree.  Today at UNC, there is a Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media in his honor. 

Stone was 89-years-old.