Lerone Bennett Jr., a prolific chronicler of black life, has died. He was 89.
Bennett was a former executive editor of Ebony Magazine, the publication that for generations was perhaps the definitive journal chronicling the personalities, social movements and cultural achievements of black America.
The death was confirmed by the A.A. Raynor & Sons funeral home in Chicago.
Bennett also authored several books, including "Before The Mayflower: A History of Black America'' that was one of the definitive primers on African American history, from 1619 through the Civil Rights movement.
Bennett, a native of Mississippi, graduated from Morehouse, the historically black university that was also the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1949.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, writing Wednesday on Twitter, said Bennett was a classmate and biographer of King and one of the most important voices in the 1960s.
"His was a pen that mattered," Jackson wrote, adding that when he was editor of Ebony, it was "the most-read voice of the freedom struggle" and that Bennett's "impact will long be felt and remembered."
Chris Woodyard contributed from Los Angeles.