Earl Calloway died Wednesday, Aug. 20, at the age of 87. When joining the Chicago Defender in 1963, he worked as both Entertainment and Fine Arts Editor.
Visitation will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 31 at Shiloh Seven Day Adventist Church, 7000 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. The funeral will begin at 2 p.m. Interment will be held at the Lincoln National Cemetery.
David Milliner had a rare experience for a 14-year-old. Milliner was Calloway’s right hand man as his assistant.
“We traveled extensively to major film and music festivals and theatrical productions on Broadway,” Milliner said. “There is no celebrity in this world that I haven’t met because Earl exposed to me the world.”
“Richard Pryor, Michael Jackson, these were people I would normally see when they came to town because of Earl,” Milliner said, who is now a Real Times Media Board Member.
After school everyday, Milliner said he would take the bus to the Chicago Defender and assist Calloway, as well as others. It wasn’t uncommon for the aspiring journalist at the time to stay until midnight.
He worked closely with Calloway throughout high school and even when he went to Drake University for journalism, he would still return during breaks to help. Calloway played a huge role in Milliner’s career development.
“Earl was a colleague and friend and he was very instrumental in my development as a young teen aspiring to be a writer,” Milliner said.
Theresa “Teesee” Fambro Hooks worked with Calloway for many years at the Chicago Defender. Despite him being 10 years older, she said they still have a good working relationship.
“I considered him a friend,” she said. “He was very nice person, easy going, very thorough, wanted to make sure everything he did and said was correct and he was thorough about his work.”
Calloway was born Oct. 4, 1926 in Birmingham, Ala. Prior to joining the Chicago Defender, Calloway had worked for the Associated Negro Press, the Chicago Courier and Negro Press International. He graduated from Roosevelt University and attended both Chicago State University and Governors State University. He was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalist Chicago Chapter.
Besides writing, Calloway also performed in opera productions such as “Aida,” “Carmen,” “Die Fledermaus,” and “Ordering of Moses,” where he sung tenor. He performed in Puccini operas across the country.
His strong music background made him the fine arts expert in the newsroom. Calloway helped organize some of Chicago’s festivals and choirs.
He is the founder of the Philharmonic Youth Choir and Oratorio Society of Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church. The music lover organized the Black Aesthetic Festival, which is known today, as the Black Creativity. Calloway stayed busy. He was even a soloist with the Artist Circle and the Umbrian Glee Club.
His awards include the Chicago Defender’s Newsmakers Special Tribute, the Charles P. Browning Journalism Award, the Cultural Citizens Foundation for the Performing Arts Lifetime Achievement Award and the Kuumba Workshop Media Award.
When not working, Calloway hosted a radio program on WGCR-FM that featured entertainers and offered show reviews. “Artists’ Circle” came on once a week.