A newspaperman and columnist, Stone also taught journalism. But before that, he was a navigator in World War II: one of the Tuskegee Airmen — the popular name for the 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the United States Army Air Forces, made up of the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. For serving their country and defending it against tyranny, they suffered tyranny themselves: racism from their countrymen. Stone was so good that he was assigned to teach navigation to recruits — but only the black ones. “They always sent me up to fly with the hard-to-learn students,” he said later. After the war, Stone was accepted at Harvard, but attended Wesleyan University instead, where he served as the commencement speaker; he then earned his master’s degree in sociology from the University of Chicago.
Stone wrote for several publications, and was the founding president of the National Association of Black Journalists. He was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, and was inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame. During his 20 years with the Philadelphia Daily News he wrote 4,000 columns, and was so trusted by readers that “more than 75 murder suspects surrendered to Stone rather than to law enforcement,” the newspaper says. Stone taught journalism, retiring from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2005. In 2007, Stone was among the remaining Tuskegee Airmen to be presented the Congressional Gold Medal by President George W. Bush at the White House. “The Tuskegee Airmen helped win a war, and you helped change our nation,” Bush said. “And the medal that we confer today means that we’re doing a small part to ensure that your story will be told and honored for generations to come.” Charles “Chuck” Stone Jr died April 6 in an assisted living center in Chapel Hill, from congestive heart failure. He was 89.