Bradley Had Profound Impact on Black Journalists
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.
We'll get to our Roundtable in a minute but first, journalism lost a role model and a pioneer yesterday. Ed Bradley, longtime anchor for CBS's 60 Minutes, died of leukemia. He was 65. Bradley broke the color barrier in 1976 as CBS's first black White House correspondent. And on 60 Minutes, he was known for hard-hitting interviews, including one in late 2003 with singer Michael Jackson.
(Soundbite of interview)
Mr. ED BRADLEY (Former Anchor, 60 Minutes at CBS): You said in that documentary that many children have slept in your bedroom. You said and I'm going to quote here, “why can't you share your bed? The most loving thing to do is to share your bed with someone.”
Mr. MICHAEL JACKSON (Singer): Yes.
Mr. BRADLEY: As we sit here today, do you still think that it's acceptable to share your bed with children?
Mr. JACKSON: Of course. Of course. Why not?
CHIDEYA: Raised in working-class Philadelphia, Bradley attended historically black Cheney State College, now Cheney University of Philadelphia. He began his broadcast career as a jazz deejay, and recently he served as radio host for NPR's Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Beloved and respected, Bradley influenced and inspired countless journalists during his career. One was Carole Simpson, a former anchorwoman at ABC News. She told me how much Ed Bradley meant to other black journalists.
Ms. CAROLE SIMPSON (Former Anchorwoman, ABC News): His legacy is being responsible for a lot of the young African-American males that we see on TV today. He was a role model, a fantastic role model. And I just can't believe that he won't be there to continue being that kind of role model because no one holds that high a position anymore. And he will be sorely missed.
CHIDEYA: You are also a pioneering African-American journalist who, you know, you've led a lot of people into the business and I've had the pleasure and privilege of working with you. How did you two interact? You weren't at the same network, you know.
Ms. SIMPSON: No, we weren't. We - I first met Ed in the ‘70s. I think it was about 1975 or ‘76 and he was covering the White House and I was little - low person on the totem pole - and here was this big Ed Bradley. And he couldn't have been nicer to me. I'll never forget that.
And I don't know that many people know how much impact he had on the African-American community. He was the annual spokes - emcee for the A Better Chance Program in New York City that would raise maybe a million dollars for young African-Americans students to get special training before they went away to college.
And he also ended up giving a scholarship to the Radio Television News Directors Foundation where I was already giving a scholarship for young people interested in majoring in broadcast. So he cared deeply about the future journalists. And as I say, he wasn't proud about that, he didn't brag about that kind of thing. But I think it's important that people know that.
CHIDEYA: Who - what was he like as a person, because I have only - I had only met him a couple of times. Once was at a party that Aretha Franklin threw, and he was, of course, dashing and dapper and full of joie de vivre.
Ms. SIMPSON: Okay.
CHIDEYA: What was he…
Ms. SIMPSON: You've got all that right.
CHIDEYA: Well, tell me about like a memory that you have of him. What was he like as a person?
Ms. SIMPSON: Well, as a person, he was extremely funny. You know that he was very smart so he always had a quick retort for any kinds of comments, and was fun to be around. I'm sure the people that worked with him - I now hear that at 60 Minutes he could be a tough taskmaster. But I didn't know him under those circumstances so he was always someone of good humor and of fun.
I remember meeting him at the White House when he had come back from covering the Vietnam War and had been in Cambodia. And he was this strapping, very muscular, handsome man, right? And through the years, I watched him mature and his hair turned gray and all of those kinds of things. But I would - saw him in March and he - I hugged him and he was very thin.
And it was such a contrast to when I had first met him. And I guess that was some indication then that things were not going so well. But yet he worked right up to the last minute. I mean that's just amazing. He must not have felt well at all and yet he continued to do his work. So he was a committed, dedicated, pioneering journalist that should be in our history books - not to be forgotten.
CHIDEYA: Carole Simpson, thank you so much.
Ms. SIMPSON: You are welcome.
CHIDEYA: That was Carole Simpson, longtime anchor of ABC's World News Tonight Sunday. We'll talk more about Ed Bradley's legacy and the latest political developments with our Roundtable.
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