Louis Lomax in an undated photo
August 16, 1922|
|Died||July 30, 1970
Santa Rosa, New Mexico
|Alma mater||Yale University
Lomax was born in Valdosta, Georgia. His parents were Emanuel C. Smith and Sarah Louise Lomax. Lomax attended Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, where he became editor of the student newspaper before he graduated in 1942. He pursued graduate studies at American University, where he was awarded an M.A. in 1944, and Yale University, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1947.
Lomax began his journalism career at the Afro-American and the Chicago Defender. These two newspapers focused on news that interested African-American readers. In 1958, he became the first African-American television journalist when he joined WNTA-TV in New York.
In 1959, Lomax told his colleague Mike Wallace about the Nation of Islam. Lomax and Wallace produced a five-part documentary about the organization, The Hate That Hate Produced, which aired during the week of July 13, 1959. The program was the first time most white people heard about the Nation and its leader, Elijah Muhammad, as well as its charismatic spokesman, Malcolm X.
Lomax later became a freelance writer, and his articles were published in publications such as Harper's, Life Pageant, The Nation, and The New Leader. His subjects included the Civil Rights Movement, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party. In 1961, he was awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for his book, The Reluctant African.
Lomax was a supporter of several civil rights organizations, including the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). In 1968, he signed the "Writers and Editors War Tax Protest" pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation maintained a file on Lomax containing over 150 pages. According to the Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum, the file "consists of letters, telegraphs, FBI inter-office memos, newspaper clippings; copies of speeches and several sheets headed FBI Deleted Page Information Sheet."
Lomax had received a $15,000 Esso Foundation grant and was writing a three-volume work about Black history at the time of his death. On July 30, 1970, Lomax was returning to New York after completing a lecture tour on the West Coast when he died in a car accident along Interstate 40, 26 miles east of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Witnesses reported that he was traveling at a high rate of speed on the double-laned highway and lost control of his rented Ford station wagon while attempting to pass another motorist. An investigation by New Mexico State Police determined that Lomax was not wearing his seatbelt and was ejected from his car after it overturned three times. Pronounced dead at the scene, he died due to head and internal injuries. His body was identified by his Hofstra class ring.
Karl Evanzz, a staff writer for The Washington Post, wrote in his 1992 book The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X that Lomax was working on a documentary concerning the role played by the FBI in the death of Malcolm X, and that Lomax's own death may have been connected to that project.
- The Reluctant African (1960)
- The Negro Revolt (1962)
- When the Word Is Given: A Report on Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and the Black Muslim World (1963)
- Thailand: The War That Is, The War That Will Be (1967)
- To Kill a Black Man: The Shocking Parallel in the Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (1968)
- Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum. "Louis E. Lomax". http://valdostamuseum.com. Lowndes County Historical Society and Museum. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "Louis E. Lomax". Reporting Civil Rights. Library of America. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- "Louis Lomax Bio and Notes". ChickenBones: A Journal. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- Griote, Simond. "Life and Times of Louis E. Lomax". Gibbs Magazine. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- "Wife Divorces Writer Lomax in Mexico". Jet. June 22, 1961. p. 24. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
- "Wife of Author Louis Lomax Sues for Divorce". Jet. February 23, 1967. p. 22. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
- "Louis Lomax Weds TV Assistant, Resigns as TV Host". Jet. March 21, 1968. p. 14. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
- Newkirk, Pamela (2002). Within the Veil: Black Journalists, White Media. New York: New York University Press. p. xxv. ISBN 0-8147-5800-2.
- Murray, Michael D. (1999). Encyclopedia of Television News. Phoenix: Oryx Press. p. 203. ISBN 1-57356-108-8.
- Joseph, Peniel E. (2006). Waiting 'til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America. New York: Henry Holt and Company. pp. 21–23. ISBN 0-8050-7539-9.
- "Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards". lovethebook.com. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
- "Louis Lomax". Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- Writers and Editors War Tax Protest". January 30, 1968. New York Post.
- "Author Louis Lomax Killed In New Mexico Auto Accident" 38 (20). August 20, 1970. pp. 48–49. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "Negro Author Killed". Reading Eagle (Reading, California). August 1, 1970. p. 8. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- "Louis Lomax, 47, killed in mishap". The Afro-American (Baltimore, Maryland). August 8, 1970. p. 21. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
- Evanzz, Karl (1992). The Judas Factor: The Plot to Kill Malcolm X. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press. pp. xxiv, 318. ISBN 1-56025-049-6.
- "Journalist Louis Lomax Interviews Elijah Muhammad" (Video). The Hate That Hate Produced. Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. July 1959. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- "Journalist Louis Lomax Asks Malcolm About the University of Islam" (Video). The Hate That Hate Produced. Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning. July 1959. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- Lomax, Louis E. (June 1, 1960). "The Negro Revolt Against 'The Negro Leaders". Harper's. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- Lomax, Louis (1963). "A Summing Up: Louis Lomax interviews Malcolm X". When the Word Is Given. TeachingAmericanHistory.org. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
- Denney, Jane (December 14, 1965). "4,100 See Lomax, Buckley Debate in Gym". The Sundial. Retrieved March 28, 2009.