One of my greatest challenges as a beginning reporter at the AFRO about 20 years ago was getting call-backs from folks I needed to interview. They’d never heard of me and many people, even today, misrepresent themselves as AFRO journalists, so some were a little skeptical.

I never had that problem with Baba Dick Gregory who I had multiple opportunities to speak with or interview over the many years I reported for the AFRO. There were few stories that couldn’t have used his insight. Since I began as a general assignment reporter, and the civil rights struggle was evident in all areas of the AFRO’s coverage, there was always something to pique his interest.

Dick Gregory

I wrote on maintaining funding in higher education, the ongoing inequities in employment, the shortage of Black women on corporate boards and unrealistic views of healthcare professionals regarding pain thresholds in African Americans. I wrote on voting rights and the lack of affordable housing in thriving neighborhoods. These are just a few topics that surface after all these years. And while I’m not sure to which of these he responded, he always was ready with a response.

He never had to be brought up to date on the issue or reminded of the players. He never had to have yet another call while he prepared his answers. He always had much more information than I—no matter the topic or the amount of research I’d done.

And my problem with him, or rather the problem with myself, was trying to maintain my focus on the particular article, rather than being astonished by his wisdom and insight on everything. Forgetting to take notes. Neglecting to start the tape recorder. Getting lost in his story. Losing sight of the time. By the time we finished the interview, he had sometimes given me 20 other stories and almost made me forget the one I’d started.

On one of those interviews I told him the difficulty I’d had locating him. This was before everyone had a cell phone and many were still using pagers. He immediately gave me a phone number and told me it belonged to his wife. He calmly said, “Miss Lillian always knows where I am in the world and can always get a hold of me.

The Rev. Dorothy S. Boulware is the former Baltimore editor of the AFRO.