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Thomas Courtney Fleming

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Photo Thomas Courtney Fleming Thomas Courtney Fleming, a pioneering African-American journalist, passed away on Nov. 21, 2006, just a few days before he was to celebrate his 99th birthday. Mr. Fleming became one of leading progressive voices in San Francisco as a reporter, columnist and editor of the Sun-Reporter, the African-American newspaper he helped found in 1944. The paper was owned for many years by his friend, the late Dr. Carlton Goodlett. Mr. Fleming was born in Jacksonville, FL, in 1907. In 1916, he left Florida as a stowaway on a ship to be with his father in New York. He attended grade school in Harlem for four years and made childhood friends such as Fats Waller. In 1919, he traveled across country to join his mother and sister in the rural California town of Chico. In 1926, Fleming moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. He began his journalism career as an unpaid writer for the Spokesman in the early 1930s after working as a cook for the railroad. In 1944, he became the founding editor of the Reporter, which later merged with the Sun to form the Sun-Reporter, where he worked for the remainder of his career. During his long life, Fleming met and interacted with many of the nation's most celebrated and influential African-Americans including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson and Mary McLeod Bethune. Although he has no living relatives, and never married, he was surrounded by many friends and became an adopted member of several families. A Memorial Service will be held on Tues, Dec. 12, 2006, in the North Light Court of City Hall in San Francisco from 5:30-8pm. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to the Thomas C. Fleming Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Jack Bair, SF Giants, 24 Willie Mays Plaza, SF, CA 94107.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 10, 2006
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