Karl Fleming

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Karl Fleming (August 30, 1927 – August 11, 2012) was an American journalist who made a significant contribution to the Civil Rights Movement through his work for Newsweek magazine in the 1960s.[1] Fleming was born in Newport News, Virginia in 1927.

Early life[edit]

When he was a baby, his father died. His mother remarried and had a daughter with her new husband. At the age of 6, his stepfather died and soon after his mother was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Fleming and his half sister were forced to go into an orphanage. Fleming has claimed that his experiences as a young boy in the orphanage encouraged a hatred of bullies and a support for the underdog that influenced his position on the civil rights struggle.[2][3]


Fleming attended college for two years and in 1945 joined the US Navy.[2]


After his serving in the Navy, Fleming worked at local newspapers and eventually worked his way up to becoming a reporter for The Atlanta Constitution Magazine. In 1961, having worked as a stringer for Newsweek for a number of months, he was hired by the magazine as a permanent correspondent in their Atlanta Bureau when Bill Emerson, formerly Atlanta Bureau Chief, was promoted. During his career as a journalist, Fleming risked his life covering James Meredith's entry into the University of Mississippi and also in 1964 when he covered the deaths of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi. After a brief stint at the Houston Bureau, Fleming was promoted to chief of Newsweek's Los Angeles Bureau. Whilst in this post, Fleming not only covered the Watts riots of 1965, but was also severely beaten during a later flare up of tension in LA's southern black neighbourhood in 1966.[3][4] In 1972 two men used counterfeit 20-dollar bills printed with DB Cooper serial numbers to swindle $30,000 from Karl Fleming who was then working for Newsweek in exchange for an interview with a man they falsely claimed was the hijacker. [5]


Fleming's first wife was Sandra Sisk and his second wife was Anne Taylor Fleming. He has four sons named Chas, David, Russell, and Mark and eight grandchildren. Sisk died in 2007.


He died at his Los Angeles home in 2012 of respiratory complications at the age of 84.[4][6]


  • The First Time: Famous People Tell about Their First Sexual Experience (1975), with Anne Taylor Fleming. Simon & Schuster[7]
  • Son Of The Rough South: An Uncivil Memoir (2005) ISBN 1-58648-296-3[8]


  1. ^ Interview with Fleming at Syracuse University website Archived 2010-06-11 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (16 August 2012). "Karl Fleming, Reporter Who Covered Civil Rights, Dies at 84". New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  3. ^ a b Fleming, Karl, Son of the Rough South: An Uncivil Memoir (New York, NY: Public Affairs, 2005)
  4. ^ a b Woo, Elaine (12 August 2012). "Karl Fleming dies at 84; Newsweek reporter chronicled civil rights struggle". LA Times. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  5. ^ ^ FBI files on Fleming case, released via Freedom of Information Act Retrieved February 15, 2011.
  6. ^ Woo, Elaine (12 August 2012). Los Angeles Times http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-karl-fleming-20120812,0,3141220.story. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2010-01-07.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ review at NPR