As hometown heroes go, Michigan Chronicle publisher for more than half a century, civic advocate, cultural icon, Detroit defender and general pillar of the community, Sam Logan Jr. died on Wednesday, Dec. 28 at the age of 78 in his Detroit home.
I can boast, as can almost any local writer, reporter or news person worth his salt, that I had the opportunity to work with the grand newspaper man, pioneer and legendary literary figure in the world of the black press, and in his near incomparable style, he didn’t pull any punches in any of those conversations. While sitting with him some months back at one of the Detroit’s favorite watering hole’s — Mr. Mike’s in the New Center area of Woodward Avenue, Sam was, as they say ‘going in’ on a black media mogul (initials B.J.) characterizing him as a sell-out and a disappointment to the people. You can imagine my relief when he turned to me, complimented me and then went on to express approval and some level of admiration for my own rolling out publisher Munson Steed for being a visionary and holding true to his course. Whew!
Much like great newspaper men of the past, Logan was renowned, infamous even for telling it like it is, without sugarcoating the facts, but while defying the political pressure which often came to bear on the media titan. He often referred to Detroit’s city council as ‘comical council’ and regularly drew the ire of political pundits who believed posturing would be enough to escape Sam’s eagle eye and the glare of the black press. It wasn’t.
The incontrovertible king of Michigan’s Black Press and a true blue/black press man moved on to establish yet another standard bearer of local information, the Michigan Front Page, which Logan founded after leaving the Chronicle in 2000, which was by then the state’s largest black newspaper.
“He was a pioneer in black journalism and the great history that gave birth to the black press in America. … He was very keen about the public’s right to know,” Michigan Chronicle senior editor Bankole Thompson said in an email on Thursday, Dec. 29.
“Sam dedicated his life to providing his readers with solid, reliable information so they could make decisions that strengthened their cities,” Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in a statement. “He was fearless when it came to taking a stand, and he did so out of a genuine love of Detroit and our state.” Sam himself was quoted as saying on more than one occasion, “ We are here to make a difference, not a dollar.”
Sam’s other business interests included ownership in the publishing company that produces the Chicago Defender, New Pittsburgh Courier, Memphis Tri-State Defender, as well as Detroit’s Michigan Chronicle and the Michigan Front Page. Logan, a former U.S. Army paratrooper, was a graduate of the University of Detroit, and a staunch educate for public education. Logan was also a lifetime member of the NAACP, and a member of the Detroit Urban League, and served on the boards of the Michigan Historical Commission, Michigan Press Association, Detroit Historical Society and the Detroit Chamber of Commerce.
Visitation is Wednesday Jan. 4 from noon to 9 p.m. and Thursday Jan. 5 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Swanson Funeral Home, 14751 W. McNichols, Detroit.
The funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 6 at Greater Grace Temple, 23500 W. Seven Mile Rd., Detroit. Burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit.