The Knoxville College family and the HBCU community are deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of George Curry. He was 69.

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His sister, Christie Love, confirmed the news in a message:

“It is with deep regret to inform everyone that my brother, George passed away earlier today.”

Curry, who graduated from Knoxville College in Tennessee, where he edited the school paper and played football, played a major role in the overnight rise of Emerge magazine—recently, in an effort to address topics relevant to the black community, he had been raising money to relaunch Emerge as an online magazine. From NBC News:

“He also served as editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine in the 1990s, and within the past year, he had been raising money to relaunch Emerge as a digital magazine covering racial injustice and other issues important to the black community.”

“He became the first African-American to be elected president of the American Society of Magazine Editors,” reported NBC News.

Curry was considered to be a “giant in journalism.” His work, in fact, helped open doors for others, and in particular black journalists climbing the ladder.

The HBCU community, and the whole world remembered him on Twitter:

Morehouse Professor Marc Lamont Hill said, “George Curry loved us so much. And he gave freely, without worry of reciprocity or reward.”

Lamont added, “He was a hero. This hurts.”