The Washington Association of Black Journalists (WABJ) is proud to announce the renaming of its annual Urban Journalism Workshop (UJW) scholarship in honor of the late George E. Curry, a journalist and a longtime champion of the Black press who died in August 2016 at the age of 69.
Curry started UJW, an annual journalism program for D.C. area high school students, in 1986. Students learn the fundamentals of print, radio, television and digital journalism and are paired with experienced journalists who volunteer their time and expertise. Some UJW alumni now work or have previously worked for The New York Times, The Associated Press, ESPN, Siruis/XM and local TV network affiliates.
The WABJ executive board voted unanimously Thursday to create The George E. Curry UJW Scholarship.
“George Curry was a trailblazer who has made significant contributions to our industry and left a lasting impact on the organization. As UJW celebrates its 35th year, it’s fitting that we honor Mr. Curry’s legacy as an exemplar, pioneer and truth-teller,” WABJ President Khorri Atkinson said. “I’m thrilled to have received the heartfelt approval of Mr. Curry’s sister, Mrs. Susan Gandy, as well as UJW Coordinator Trina Williams, to honor and pay tribute to him in this way.”
On Saturday, June 12 during the virtual closing ceremony for this year’s UJW program, WABJ will announce two inaugural recipients of The George E. Curry UJW Scholarship.
Each year, WABJ offers a $1,500 scholarship to a graduating high school senior who has completed all program requirements and will enroll in an accredited college or university. This year’s scholarships will be funded by a $25,000 grant provided by the Gannett Foundation in 2020 to help support UJW students with training and scholarships.
Curry, who served as UWJ’s founding director, was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and started his journalism career as a reporter for Sports Illustrated in 1970. He was the second African American hired by the publication. After leaving the outlet in 1972, he worked at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a beat reporter until 1983.
In 1977, Curry founded the St. Louis Minority Journalism Workshop, a training program for aspiring high school journalists. He worked for the Chicago Tribune as a Washington, D.C. correspondent and New York bureau chief. He later served as editor-in-chief of Emerge Magazine, a rival to Ebony and Essence, until it folded and printed its final edition in 2003.
From 2000 to 2007, and again from 2012 to 2015, Curry was the editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s news service, BlackPressUSA.com. In 2003, the National Association of Black Journalists named Curry its Journalist of the Year for his work with the Black Press.
Founded in 1975, the Washington Association of Black Journalists is an organization for African-American journalists, journalism professors, public relations professionals and student journalists in the Washington, D.C., metro area. WABJ provides members with ongoing professional education opportunities and advocates for greater diversification of the profession.
*NABJ and HistoryMakers contributed to this statement.