The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Ida E. Lewis

Share on Social Media

Information about Ida E. Lewis

Profile image of Ida E. Lewis

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Potatoes
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/22/1934
Birth Location:
Malbern, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Journalist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Potatoes
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/22/1934
Birth Location:
Malbern
See how Ida E. Lewis is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Journalist Ida E. Lewis was born on September 22, 1934 in Malvern, Pennsylvania to Grace Walker Lewis and Samuel Lewis. She graduated from Swarthmore High School in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania in 1952. Then, she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism from Boston University in 1956.

Lewis began her career as a reporter at the New York Amsterdam News in 1957. Later, she was hired at the African American-owned newspaper The New York Age, where she stayed until 1961. After leaving The New York Age, she worked as a director of research at Small Investors Real Estate Plan, Inc. Then, Lewis moved to Paris, France, where she lived for six years. During that time, she worked as a contributing writer for publications including Le Monde, Le Figaro Litteraire and Jeune Afrique. She also interviewed African dignitaries for the British Broadcasting Corporation; reported from Africa on assignment with Life magazine; and wrote her first essay collection, The Deep Ditch and The Narrow Pit. In 1969, Lewis returned to the United States as a correspondent for Jeune Afrique. The following year, she became the second editor-in-chief of Essence magazine. In 1971, Lewis left Essence, and founded the international news publication Encore, where she and Nikki Giovanni interviewed Biafran leader Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. Following the magazine’s closure in 1979, Lewis joined the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Lewis worked from the mid-1980s as a political media consultant and press agent for clients such as Ross Perot, Abraham Hirschfeld and Adam Clayton Powell IV. In the 1990s, Lewis became the first female editor-in-chief of the NAACP’s The Crisis magazine. She also then began teaching as an adjunct professor of journalism at the Boston University College of Communication, where in 2005, she created the Ida E. Lewis Scholarship Fund to support minority students in journalism.

During her career, Lewis published several articles, including “Black Mask of Angry Africa” in Life magazine; “The End of Integrationism: Neither Assimilation, nor Secession, Black Americans Engage in a New Way” in Jeune Afrique; and “Who Is an African American” in The New Crisis.

Lewis was the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History. She also received the Woman of Distinction Award from the Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York.

In 2004, Lewis was appointed to serve on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board of the Boston University College of Communication. She also served on the Boston University Alumni Council and the Boston University College of Communication’s National Alumni Committee.

Ida E. Lewis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 6, 2017.

See how Ida E. Lewis is related to other HistoryMakers
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ida E. Lewis' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ida E. Lewis lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ida E. Lewis describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ida E. Lewis describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ida E. Lewis lists her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ida E. Lewis describes her communities in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ida E. Lewis describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ida E. Lewis describes her schooling
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ida E. Lewis recalls the start of her interest in journalism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ida E. Lewis describes her early experiences of religion
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ida E. Lewis recalls her extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ida E. Lewis remembers Swarthmore High School in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ida E. Lewis talks about her early understanding of race
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Ida E. Lewis describes her experiences at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ida E. Lewis describes her experiences at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ida E. Lewis recalls her introduction to Alexander Pushkin
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ida E. Lewis remembers joining the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ida E. Lewis remembers joining the staff of the New York Amsterdam News
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ida E. Lewis remembers her transition to the New York Age
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ida E. Lewis recalls her time as an expatriate in Paris, France
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ida E. Lewis remembers writing her first book
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ida E. Lewis recalls traveling in Africa on assignment with Life magazine
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ida E. Lewis remembers returning the United States
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ida E. Lewis remembers the black expatriate community in Paris, France
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ida E. Lewis recalls how she became the editor-in-chief of Essence magazine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ida E. Lewis recalls the tension between the founders of Essence magazine, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ida E. Lewis recalls the tension between the founders of Essence magazine, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ida E. Lewis remembers her termination from Essence magazine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ida E. Lewis talks about creating Essence magazine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ida E. Lewis remembers founding Encore magazine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ida E. Lewis recalls teaching at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ida E. Lewis recalls her work as a political consultant and speechwriter
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ida E. Lewis talks about Adam Clayton Powell IV
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ida E. Lewis remembers becoming the editor-in-chief of The Crisis
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ida E. Lewis talks about her retirement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ida E. Lewis describes her art collection
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ida E. Lewis remembers her international travels
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ida E. Lewis describes her mentors
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ida E. Lewis reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ida E. Lewis reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ida E. Lewis describes her advice to aspiring African American journalists
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ida E. Lewis describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ida E. Lewis narrates her photographs