Trailblazer Ernest Tucker to be posthumously inducted into CBC News Hall of Fame

Ernest Tucker, seen here in the late 1990s at John Abbott College, will be posthumously inducted into the CBC News Hall of Fame. (CBC/Rebecca Savrin)

CBC News has announced that Ernest Tucker will be inducted into the CBC News Hall of Fame next month.

Ernest Tucker

Noted as the public broadcaster’s first Black journalist, Tucker was born in Bermuda and relocated to Toronto at age 14 with his older brother who had won a teacher-training scholarship.

Tucker went on to become the first Black graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson University in 1954. While still in school, he landed interviews for The Ryersonian with boxer Joe Lewis and entertainers like Nat King Cole and Josephine Baker, but was unable to find work in Canada. A job offer in Sudbury was rescinded when he got off the bus. After returning to Bermuda and a stint with the Bermuda Recorder, he entered McGill University, transferring to Sir George Williams College (now Concordia University), where he became editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

Upon his graduation in 1958, he returned to Bermuda again, working as a freelance writer for The Royal Gazette as its first Black journalist, before coming back to Toronto when one of his pieces caught the attention of an editor at the Toronto Telegram. He joined the CBC Toronto newsroom in October 1961 and was famously on the desk alone when John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963, writing and producing the breaking story that went to air. Tucker was subsequently promoted to producer on afternoon news show, Across Canada, writing for announcers Alex Trebek and Lloyd Robertson. He later moved to CBC Montreal, where he covered the FLQ crisis, and brought interviews to air with Black Power activist Stokely Carmichael, among countless other stories, before retiring in the mid-1990s.

Tucker, concurrently and after his retirement from CBC, taught radio and journalism in the Media Arts program at John Abbott College for 36 years, from 1972 until 2008. He also authored three books, including Underworld Dwellers, published in 1994, and Lost Boundaries in 2004, which tackled the subject of police harassment of Black Montrealers. He died at age 87 on Jan. 3, 2019.

“The CBC News Hall of Fame was established to honour individuals who have ‘demonstrated a lasting impact on the CBC and Canadian journalism.’ It is a chance for CBC News to embrace and celebrate this legacy and the individuals who have helped define us,” said Susan Marjetti, General Manager of News, Current Affairs & Local, CBC, in a release. “Quite simply, Ernest Tucker made a difference in a lot of people’s lives at CBC.”

Tucker’s induction will take place Tuesday, Dec. 15. The virtual ceremony will include his children, Rebecca, Jasmin and Julien. Tucker joins previous inductees Knowlton Nash, Joe Schlesinger, Barbara Frum, Trina McQueen, Peter Stursberg and Matthew Halton. 

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