Reporter Steve Crump's acclaimed documentaries tell television viewers about pivotal events in the African-American experience. Recognizing that, The Charlotte Post Foundation has named him its Educator of the Year.
A veteran of more than three decades at Charlotte's WBTV, Channel 3, Crump has covered every imaginable news story while finding time and energy to produce some 30 documentary programs for WBTV and public television station WTVI.
His documentaries range from Apartheid in South Africa to a biography of Muhammed Ali, and from South Carolina's Orangeburg Massacre to the violence-marred integration of Charlotte's Harding High. He's earned multiple awards.
"Steve Crump produces documentaries that enlighten the community about civil rights struggles," said Gerald Johnson, publisher of The Charlotte Post and president of The Charlotte Post Foundation. "He has brilliantly used pen and camera to tell stories of historical significance."
The Foundation will present its Educator of the Year award to Crump at its annual banquet on Saturday, October 5, at the Hilton center city.
"Maybe I do educate," Crump said, "but the overarching theme is cheering for the underdog. I see myself as somebody who has delivered information that empowered a community. You end up sinking your teeth in something."
Crump bit into the 50th anniversary of Harding High's integration in 1957 by Dorothy Counts-Scoggins. She left after four days of abuse, but successor Harding University High presented her with an honorary diploma after Crump's piece aired.
"A lot of newcomers continue to immigrate to this town and they don't know that story," he said.
Crump sped to Charleston, SC, the morning after a gunman murdered nine people in Emmanuel AME Church in spring 2015. An in-depth report resulted.
"To feel that level of a community's collective grief and sorrow is just unlike anything I've ever gone through," he said. "Seeing bullet holes in the wall where (the shooter) carried out the horrendous crime -- it will make you think."
Cynthia Hurd, sister of former state senator Malcolm Graham of Charlotte, was one of the victims. Graham praised Crump.
"He told the Charleston story in a way everyone could understand," Graham said, "that what occurred was not just an attack on nine people. It was an attack on a race, on a Christian church and on humanity."
A Louisville, KY, native and horse-racing fanatic, Crump arrived at WBTV in 1984. Subsequently, he took a job with a Detroit station, but was lured back to Charlotte by long-time broadcast executive Jim Babb.
"I think his work has been the finest of anybody in journalism in Charlotte during the last 35 or 40 years," Babb said.
Now retired, Babb was president of Jefferson Pilot Broadcasting, former owner of WBTV. He remembers Crump's early days clearly.
"Steve exhibited a lot of talent, drive, energy and enthusiasm," Babb recalled. "We thought he would not only be good on the air but he'd be good in the newsroom as far as overall morale."
Crump has mentored many a budding broadcast journalist. He's earned the newsroom moniker "Crump Daddy."
That nickname reminds Crump of what he calls "the highest compliment I ever got." It came from reporter/anchor Jamie Boll, who referred to Crump on the air as "the conscience of our newsroom."
Crump's institutional knowledge impresses Boll. "He knows what really matters," Boll said, "and it keeps us as a station grounded in the community we serve."
Now 61, Crump recently returned part-time at WBTV after taking medical leave to fight colon cancer. He's about 100 pounds lighter and continues chemo treatments.
"I'm getting stronger," he said, and praised his wife Cathy and step-daughter Dr. Jennifer Perry for their support.
He's glad he's worked so long at WBTV and lived in Charlotte.
"This is a great place," he said. "I found something here that a lot of people never find -- stability, a welcoming environment and a place of opportunity."