I worked with Kwame McDonald back when I was the executive editor of Insight News, sometime between 1992 and 2000. Kwame and his son Mitch edited the paper’s sports page for awhile, although I can’t remember for how long. But I do remember that every week, Kwame brought in stories about African American girls and boys who excelled in sports and academics. He bragged about the kids like they were his own. Kwame was a firm believer that sometimes a little praise goes a long way in helping young people believe in themselves.
Kwame did the same for me. I was in my 20s when I took over the job of running the editorial side of Insight News. At times I felt overwhelmed. And sometimes I had to butt heads with contributors like Kwame who were many years my senior. But even when we disagreed about the placement of a photo or over the amount of room I could give him for his column, he continued to build me up. He told me to not sweat the small stuff and to keep up the good work.
Finally, I’ll always remember Kwame’s enormous smile and his sense of humor. Once I called him, partially in jest, “The Honorable Kwame McDonald.” He let out a big laugh. But as amused as he was by it, the title didn’t stick. Kwame seemed to take more honor in being known as a village elder. That he was.
Kwame died this week at the age of 80.