Raymond H. Boone, Sr., 76, one of the most respected Black journalists in Virginia for the past 56 years, died Tuesday June 3 of pancreatic cancer.
Called the “watchdog for the interest of the Black community,” Boone, a native of Suffolk, was editor of the Richmond Afro-American and Planet for 15 years, and owner, publisher and editor of the Richmond Free Press since he founded it in 1992.
An article by the Richmond Times Dispatch said, “Readers across Richmond eagerly awaited Mr. Boone’s words each Thursday morning when his weekly Richmond Free Press hit the streets.”
Between editing the Afro-American and Planet and The Free Press, he lived in Baltimore, where he was an executive with the Afro-American Newspapers, Inc., and taught journalism at Howard University.
Mr. Boone got his start in journalism as a reporter for the Suffolk News-Herald in 1957. He also worked for the Norfolk Journal and Guide.
“Ray was a pioneer and a fixture in the Virginia Press Corps,” Congressman Robert Scott (D) said in a statement to the public. “The Richmond Free Press, which Ray founded more than 20 years ago, has been an important source of news and information for the Richmond community, often covering issues and stories left unnoticed by larger media organizations.
While he was my friend, Ray was always a newsman first and never hesitated to hold my feet to the fire on issues important to the Richmond community.”
In his statement released to the media, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, said, “Mr. Boone represented the very best of aggressive, community-based advocacy journalism. Both in print and in his personal relationships, Mr. Boone consistently held all of us accountable – himself included. Ray Boone exemplified the old saying that newspapers are supposed to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.’”
In her condolences to Mrs. Boone and the Free Press Family, New Journal and Guide Publisher Brenda H. Andrews wrote, “I have lost a good friend and fellow advocate for justice, equity, and fairness. I will miss the relentless and unswerving dedication that Ray gave to upholding the mission of the Black Press. He was truly a model of journalistic excellence that leaves a void in our industry.”
Mr. Boone was in Hampton Roads last year to participate in the 113th Anniversary of the New Journal and Guide.
“If it involved the Black community, he was there,” said Jeremy Lazarus, a reporter for the Free Press. ”He had his crusades. Among them was suing to create district voting in the city to give Blacks an equal voice today on council. He grew the Free Press into a must-read paper each week by politicians and the people. He wrote without fear or favor because he believed in fairness. He believed that the mission of this paper was Biblical in that it had the ability to influence people and policy. He was a warrior.”
Survivors include his wife, Jean Boone; a son, Raymond H. Boone Jr.; and a daughter, Regina Boone.