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Last Modified: 3/7/2008
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George McElroy: The First Black Person who earned a Journalism Degree
George McElroy is a person whose name serves as a pride for not only black people, but whole America. McElroy graduated from Texas Southern University (TSU) in 1956. After graduating, he became the first black journalist to earn a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in the year 1970.
George McElroy’s whole life consists of love and passion for writing. His true passion was his work for the Black press. He dedicated about sixty eight years of his life to Houston’s African-American press. If we consider his past, McElroy’s grandfather predicted when he was only five to six years old that he would become a journalist, and surprisingly, that prediction became real. In an interview with McElroy in 2005, he said that out of about thirteen grandchildren, he was the only one who was allowed to touch his grandfather’s type writer, because his grandfather had no doubts about his talent.
He was only sixteen years old when he began to write youth columns for the Houston Informer which is the oldest black newspaper in Texas. Not only he was the first African American to earn a journalism degree, but he was also the first black person on the communication faculty at the University of Houston and the first African American to teach journalism in the Houston Independent School District.
McElroy’s stories and articles were wonderful, daring, and heartfelt. One could be easily able to understand his love and emotions in his writings. He performed a spectacular job, particularly, in the year 1960 when he had to face ridiculous segregation. And it required something a lot more than his journalism skills to report the unfair racism. But it was his talent, courage and audaciousness that he wrote articles about the segregation. McElroy was also a veteran of World War II and the Korean War which had made him more of a brave and fearless man. He told daring stories of how Houston became an integrated city.
He interviewed the most famous people we know of including Martin Luther Kind Jr., Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, Fidel Castro and also six American presidents.
In the year 1976, McElroy returned to Texas Southern University and joined the university’s journalism department. In the year 1977, an entire week was proclaimed in his honor by Houston mayor Fred Hofheinz. He also received more than a hundred honors and several awards from nationally prestigious professional organizations and government agencies.
McElroy retired in the year 1989, but, however, he still did not give up his reporting skills. He continued working for the Houston Informer for about seventeen more years until he officially retired in February of 2005.
He spent most of his life in Houston and was married to the late Lucida McElroy for forty five years. He had five daughters and three of them have earned their degrees in their father’s profession: journalism.
Houston Association of Black Journalists honored him with a life time achievement award on September 29, 2007. And only after a few days, this unpopular, great person died from acute respiratory distress syndrome, on October 7, at the age of eighty four.
McElroy had no fear for the future and no regrets of the past. His job was to deliver the truth to the people. George McElroy plays a role model for all those who enjoy love for journalism. The skill, courage, and the very passion is required to be successful journalist, and without any ambiguity, we can say that McElroy owned all of it. He did not care about himself, but about the truth. His daring articles and unique stories set an example for the whole world of journalism. He was indeed a great journalist and a pride for the African American nation.
These are some of the obvious reasons, due to which, I chose McElroy to be a role model for me. I, myself, am a writer with a passion to learn creative writing skills. I also plan to be a journalist and I cannot find an example better than McElroy.
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