Community activist, journalist Beauty Turner dies

A longtime tenant of the now-razed Robert Taylor Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority public housing complex, veteran journalist Beauty Turner never forgot where she came from.

A longtime tenant of the now-razed Robert Taylor Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority public housing complex, veteran journalist Beauty Turner never forgot where she came from.

Always wearing her signature black hat, Turner often referred to herself as a "writer and a fighter" who was always on the frontlines of issues that affected residents in the public housing system and in neighborhoods where crime was rampant and the “voiceless” needed to be heard.

Turner had a stroke last week and slipped into a coma. She died three days later on Dec. 18 at Rush Presbyterian Hospital.

She was 51.

During her career, she served as the editor of the "Residents’ Journal," a newspaper that focused on public housing, a columnist for the "Lakefront Outlook" weekly newspaper serving the Bronzeville community and as the associate editor for the "South Street Journal" that also focused on Bronzeville and its neighboring communities.

“Beauty was an award-winning writer that never backed down from corporate America and always told it like it was. She never sugarcoated anything. She wanted you to feel it like those that she was writing about felt it. She was my hero,” said her niece, Anita Bryant, a former Defender copy editor.

Turner received several awards for her writing from the Associated Press, Chicago Association of Black Journalists and Chicago Headline Club, among others.

She also created the Ghetto Bus Tour that took groups throughout the various CHA complexes and to sites where some have been demolished. During the tours, guests of the tour got a chance to hear first-hand from residents about living in the city’s public housing system.

The tours garnered national media attention.

When tourists were in town, the bus tour became a “must-do,” Bryant added.

“She was definitely the Ida B. Wells of our times, keeping the voice of the poor and disenfranchised in the forefront. Chicago has really lost a good one. She was powerful,” said La’keisha Gray-Sewell, a media relations consultant and community activist.

Attorney Tamara Holder remembered Turner from the many visits both paid to the Harold Ickes housing complex.

“Beauty was such a fighter,” said Holder, who currently represents scores of tenants in the Ickes who allege harassment by the Chicago Police Department.

Turner is survived by her daughter LaTonya Taylor, and two sons, Larry and Landon Turner.

Funeral services will be held Friday at Greater Harvest M.B. Church, 5141 S. State St.

Visitation is at 9 a.m., and funeral services start at 10 a.m.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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