(CBS) — It’s been a daunting task for every news organization: telling the story of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
But for the pre-eminent chronicler of African-American life, it is a job like none other.
“It was privilege but it was also kind of nerve-wracking because we wanted to do it right,” says Kyra Kyles, Ebony-Jet vice president.
Chicago’s Johnson Publishing Co. covered every chapter of Ali’s life for more than 50 years.
“It was perfect symmetry. He was a big part of Chicago. He was a big part of the Johnson Publishing Co. legacy,” Kyles says.
Kyles and her team sprang into action when Ali died, combing through a treasure trove of photos, video and articles — many now on Ebony’s website.
“We cover a lot of people, we cover celebrity passings,” Kyles says. “This was very difficult for everyone on the staff to do because we have to say goodbye to a man who was not only someone who was great and talented but someone who really cared about other human beings and did his best with what he had — his talent — to try to make sure equality came true for everyone.”
Kyles says Ali visited the Johnson Publishing offices on south Michigan Avenue and would describe how proud he was to be black and try to instill that pride in others there.