On this day in 1928, Lerone Bennett, Jr. was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. As a young child, he and his family moved to Jackson, Mississippi where Bennett attended segregated schools as a child under the state system.
After high school, he went on to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Bennett noted that this time was extremely vital to his intellectual development. After graduating, he worked as a journalist for Atlanta Daily World for four years. Additionally, he worked as an editor for JET magazine. Shortly after, he became associate editor for Ebony Magazine, where he worked for five years.
Additionally, Bennett has written several books about the African American experience. Bennett is best known for Before the Mayflower (1962) and Forced into Glory (2000). The book questions Abraham Lincoln’s role as the “Great Emancipator” and has been criticized by major historians such as Eric Foner and James McPherson. He is credited with the quote, “Image Sees, Image Feels, Image Acts,” meaning that people’s actions and feelings are influenced by the images they see.
In 1954, he was praised for his article, “Thomas Jefferson’s Negro Grandchildren,” which focused on the 20th-century lives of those claiming descent from Jefferson and Sally Hemings, his slave.
Bennett has received several awards and honors throughout the years, most notably the Book of the Year Award from Capital Press Club and the Patron Saints Award from the Society of Midland Authors. In 2003, Bennett was honored with the Carter G. Woodson Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.