Lorenzo “Lo” Jelks, Atlanta’s first Black television news reporter, has died at 83, according to the Atlanta Press Club and CNN affiliate WSB.
After graduating from Clark College (now known as Clark Atlanta University), Jelks was hired in 1967 by WSB-TV, where he stayed for nearly a decade, according to the Atlanta Press Club.
“Once (WSB) took that opportunity of going with someone green like me, someone who had never been inside a television station, I think perhaps that helped with the other stations,” Jelks told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview last year.
After leaving WSB-TV, he created an AM radio station highlighting historically Black colleges and universities, and helped run a newspaper serving a group of local HBCUs, according to the Atlanta Press Club.
“He really shined the light on the importance of education and I think in many ways changed the landscape of race relations in Atlanta and certainly in Georgia by his reporting,” Jocelyn Dorsey, former WSB director of editorials and public affairs, said in a tribute video for Jelks posted by the Atlanta Press Club.
In 2022, Jelks was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame.
“The Atlanta Press Club is deeply saddened by the passing of Lorenzo ‘Lo’ Jelks,” the organization said in a statement after his death. “His legacy will live on with the 2023 Lorenzo ‘Lo’ Jelks Communications and Marketing Internship sponsored by the Georgia Power Foundation.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp also paid tribute to Jelks on Saturday.
“As someone who made history for our state, he paved the way for other African Americans in media during a pivotal time,” Kemp said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“As we pray for his loved ones, we’re also remembering his valued contributions,” the governor added.
CNN reached out to Jelks’ family Saturday but did not receive a response.