Partner Tom Ciano
University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA
Thomas Morgan III (died December 24, 2007) was the National Association of Black Journalist’s eighth president and the first who was openly gay. “He was passionate about journalism and about NABJ,” said Vanessa Williams, a Washington Post editor who also served as NABJ president. “He taught us much about tolerance, fairness and courage.”
Morgan was the association's eighth president, serving from 1989 to 1991. The organization is the nation's largest professional association for journalists of color.
During Morgan's tenure, the association expanded its mentorship and training programs for students and established the Ethel Payne fellowship, which enables members to travel to Africa in pursuit of stories. The fellowship is named for Ethel L. Payne, who was widely regarded as the doyenne of black journalists.
Morgan incurred public criticism, however, after he agreed to share the association's membership list with The Daily News of New York during a strike there in 1990; the paper planned to use the list to seek replacements for striking journalists. The association rescinded the offer shortly afterward.
Before being elected as the association's first openly gay president, Morgan had been its treasurer for six years. When he became treasurer in 1983, the association had 334 members and less than $50,000 in assets, according to the book "Rugged Waters: Black Journalists Swim the Mainstream" (August Press, 2003), by Wayne Dawkins. When Morgan left the post in 1989, Dawkins wrote, the association had 1,600 members and a $1 million stock portfolio.
In later years, Morgan advised association members on establishing the group's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Task Force, begun in 2005.
Thomas Morgan III was born in St. Louis on May 17, 1951. Attending the University of Missouri on an R.O.T.C. scholarship, he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism in 1973. After graduation, he worked as an information officer in the Air Force; in addition to his regular duties, he was a social aide in the Nixon and Ford White Houses.
After leaving the Air Force, Morgan worked for The Miami Herald and later The Washington Post. He joined The Times in 1983 as an assistant editor in the Metropolitan section. From 1986 to 1989, he was a reporter for the paper, first in the culture department and then on the metropolitan staff, where he wrote about homelessness. He was later on the staff of the paper's human resources department.
Morgan retired from The Times in 1994 and afterward devoted much of his time to AIDS advocacy.
His honors include a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 1990; a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1995; and induction into the hall of fame of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association in 2005.
Thomas Morgan III died on December 24, 2007, in Southampton, Mass. He was 56 and lived in Brooklyn. The cause was complications of AIDS, his partner of 23 years, Tom Ciano, said.