CHICAGO (CBS) — The power of his pen was known by many Ebony readers.

Lerone Bennett Jr.’s legacy and his influence in Chicago is being remembered by those who knew him.

As we celebrate Black History Month, we mourn the passing of a black history icon, Lerone Bennett Jr.

He was the former Executive Editor at Ebony magazine.

He died Wednesday at the age 89.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker talks with his family about the man known by African Americans as “the people’s historian.”

Joy Bennett is the oldest daughter of the author, historian and former Executive Editor of Ebony magazine.

“I’m tremendously grateful to god for the life of Lerone Bennett Jr.,” says his daughter showing pictures of his many honors.

“This is from Morehouse College in 1967. It was an honorary degree. Dad had about 15 honorary degrees from almost all the black colleges and most of the white ones.”

As an author, Bennett gained international recognition for his book “Before the Mayflower.” It tells the story of African Americans before slavery.

“It made us proud. We weren’t depicted as caricatures,” says Bennett. “We had a story to tell and we made vital contributions.”

But Bennett was best known as the voice of Ebony magazine.

It’s where he worked for more than 50 years.

He retired in early 2005, but returned that summer when Ebony founder, John Johnson died.

Bennett was asked to write the tribute.

That’s the last time Tucker interviewed him.

“I want to deal with the changes Ebony has helped to spark,” said Bennett.

When asked what she wants people to remember about her father, Bennett says he was a person who shared everything with his community.

“He gave his life to black people,” says Bennett. “And because of him we have a better opinion of ourselves. We have a much better life.”

Ebony CEO Linda Johnson Rice called Bennett “the guiding light for the editorial vision of Ebony.”

The Bennett family is still working on funeral arrangements.

 

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