UNC School of Journalism remembers long-time professor Chuck Stone

No matter how Chuck Stone did it, he did it swinging.

Whether it was swinging to jazz music or verbally swinging at politicians in the name of editorial justice, Stone had an energy that could not be stopped.

More than 100 people gathered to remember Stone in Carroll Hall for a memorial service held by the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Stone, a retired UNC journalism professor, editor of major black newspapers during the civil rights movement and author, died last month at age 89.

“Words like audacity, kicking ass and taking names — that’s swinging,” said Charles Stone III, Stone’s son who spoke at the memorial service Saturday. “That was the kernel of truth, the infinite spark that I got from him.”

Stone was committed to helping minority journalists succeed, said Richard Cole, who was dean of the journalism school and the man who brought Stone to UNC.

“(Stone used to say) ‘I will truly hope you will learn to tell the stories of those on the margins of society, they need someone to be their voice,’” Cole said.

During his time at UNC, Stone founded the Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media, a summer program for minority high school students to come get a taste of what it’s like to study journalism at the college level.

‘A character’

It was his quirkiness that made Stone beloved amongst his fellow professors in the journalism school.

“Chuck would take one of those tiny bottles of Tabasco sauce — I swear one time he even put some in his iced tea,” Cole said. “He was a character in so many ways, but he was so much more than that.”

Stone was one of the founding presidents of the National Association of Black Journalists, one of the top journalism associations in the country.

The group will award its first Chuck Stone Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual conference in Boston in August, said Bob Butler, the president of the association.

One person Stone made a real impression on was Barry Saunders, a well-known columnist at Raleigh’s News and Observer.

“You know how they say you should never meet your heroes?” Saunders said during the memorial service. “Forget that. Once I met Chuck, he was an even great human being than I could have ever imagined.

Saunders said it was Stone’s columns for the Philadelphia Daily News that eventually inspired Saunders to be a columnist himself.

When Saunders first became a columnist he would call Stone if there was a column that garnered widespread negative responses from his readers.

“I would say ‘I think I really missed the mark on that one,” Saunders said. “And Chuck, in a really tender way, so tenderly and thoughtfully, would say ‘Fuck em.’”

Continuing education

The UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication received an anonymous grant to hold a symposium in Stone’s honor in the fall.

Susan King, dean of the journalism school, said while information about the symposium would be posted on the website soon, the event was something many faculty members had been asking for.

Cole said Stone was the kind of educator who taught his students by example.

“Chuck brought to our school a dimension of freedom many students didn’t know about,” Cole said.

“In short, he was a treasure.”

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