Chuck Stone was many things. A legendary journalist, a civil rights activist, founder of the National Association of Black Journalist and professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UNC-Chapel Hill.
But I never really knew him as any of those things. When I met him during lunch at the Agora in Granville Towers, Chuck Stone had been retired for several years.
I sat at the table with 11 other students from across the country. We all had something in common with Chuck Stone, but as juniors in high school at the time few of us really even knew who he was prior to arriving on campus.
At this point, you might be wondering what I could possibly have in common with him. What any of the 17-year-olds sitting at the table that day could have had in common with a man so legendary.
What we all had in common was a desire to tell stories. And not just any stories, but the stories of those whose voices often went unheard. I spent that week with 11 other students coming from all types of diversity in order to discuss the importance of promoting diversity through journalism.
The Chuck Stone Program for Diversity in Education and Media honors Chuck Stone’s legacy and brings 12 student from across the country together every summer to teach them journalism skills, discuss diversity and encourage their passion for storytelling.
I think Chuck Stone knew that I wanted to do before I did. Although I no longer plan to be a journalist, the idea of telling stories to give a voice to others has always been at the core of my career motivation. It’s why I want to work in public service after graduation, and it’s why I dedicate my time to nonprofits like UNC Dance Marathon now.
The past few weeks, with Chuck Stone’s passing and the annual reunion luncheon our program has, have forced me to reflect more on his legacy and the role I must play in passing on that legacy. There is more I can be doing and should be doing. Reminded of this task I’ve been given, I’m ready to embrace the challenge anew.
Professor Stone, thank you for leaving all of us Chuck Stone scholars this challenge.
“Don’t just be the best — be the best and help somebody.“- Charles Sumner “Chuck” Stone, Jr.