Rep. Sewell honors Norman Lumpkin on U.S. House floor - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Rep. Sewell honors Norman Lumpkin on U.S. House floor

Representative Terri Sewell (D-Dist 7) honored the late Norman Lumpkin Thursday morning when she took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and spoke of his life and achievements.

Rep. Sewell spoke for just under four minutes on the well known former WSFA reporter's life and career. Lumpkin died Tuesday at the age of 75.

The remarks entered into the official House record by Rep. Sewell are:

"I rise today to pay tribute to the life and legacy of veteran newscaster Norman Lumpkin who passed away on Tuesday, May 6. While we mourn the passing of this pioneer, I am comforted knowing that his legacy will live on through the barriers he broke for black journalists in the State of Alabama.

I join with his friends, family and former colleagues in remembering Norman Lumpkin for his numerous contributions to the industry. Norman launched his longstanding media career by working for radio stations in Montgomery, Alabama and Indianapolis, Indiana.

However, Norman would rise to preeminence when he was hired in 1969 by WSFA in Montgomery, Alabama. He was the station's first black reporter and also the first black reporter hired in the Montgomery media market.

Historian Richard Bailey defined Norman's prolific career in three words: "Forceful Thorough and Believable". Bailey further noted that Norman personified black broadcasting. He coined the phrase, "If you don't want to hear it on this station, don't let it happen." The phrase represented not only his thirst for truth, but his commitment to accurate reporting.

Norman was guiding by these principles when he was assigned to cover the re-election bid for then segregationist George, Governor George Wallace in 1970. During the race, Norman admitted that fellow reporters would give him misinformation to embarrass him in an effort to discredit his journalistic integrity.

But this passionate advocate for truth was not to be deterred. In fact, Governor Wallace personally made sure that Norman was kept abreast of new developments and campaign events. Through his extraordinary coverage of Governor Wallace, Norman not only earned credibility, but a lasting respect from those in the industry. His perseverance proved that he was poised to become one of the best investigative journalists in the State of Alabama.

Norman Lumpkin also made history off camera. He was the first black president of the Alabama AP Broadcasters Association and was inducted into the National Academy of Television Arts [and Sciences] prestigious Silver Circle in 2007.

He eventually left WSFA in 1999 [Editor's Note of Correction 1992] and became News Director at Montgomery's ABC affiliate before serving as public relations director for the Alabama Highway Department where he eventually retired.

Today, I honor Norman Lumpkin for serving as an impeccable role model and source of inspiration for generations of black journalists that now follow in his footsteps. Those that had the pleasure of watching him were indeed inspired by his mere presence. He was to many the perfect illustration of what was possible in his field. As he courageously broke barriers, he gave African Americans a voice in a state that was still struggling for racial equality.

Oh behalf of a grateful nation and state, we salute this American hero and Alabama treasure. Saying thanks to Norman Lumpkin somehow seems woefully inadequate, but behalf of countless journalists and media professionals that you have inspired, we honor your legacy and your place in Alabama history.

I ask my colleagues to join me in mourning the passing of a great veteran journalist. Norman Lumpkin."

ON THE WEB - Watch Rep. Sewell give her speech on the House floor

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