CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Musician, Civil Rights protester, UTC professor and TV personality Booker T Scruggs, II died on Monday.
He was taken ill doing what he loved, playing jazz with the Booker T. Scruggs Ensemble, at St. Luke United Methodist Church.
Booker was 74 years old.
He was many things to many people, but always a touchstone for Chattanooga history since the 1940’s.
Booker grew up with Samuel L. Jackson, his mother would be a key teacher in the young actor’s early years in Chattanooga.
He thought Chattanooga should do more to honor Jackson.
Booker commented in 2011, “A room of some sort if you don’t name a theater after him at least a room, a rehearsal room at one of the theaters maybe the little theater.”
He graduated from Howard High School in 1964.
During those high school years, he took part in Chattanooga’s most public action of the civil rights era.
He joined dozens of classmates in the Howard sit-ins, where students sat at white’s only lunch counters at several downtown businesses.
You can read more about the protests here.
Scruggs would go on to be a professor of sociology at UTC.
And for 36 years, he was involved in the Upward Bound organization there which mentoring city youth.
He retired as its director.
Booker was also a lover of jazz, playing the clarinet and saxophone in several local groups over the years.
He recorded several albums here and played both nationally and internationally.
You can find out more about his music career and albums here.
But we, of course, best remember him as a colleague.
Booker was recruited to host a local public affairs show back in 1970, called Point of View.
He continued producing that show until his retirement on January 1st, 2011.
That made Point of View the longest running, locally produced television show in the world.
The show continues today.
Over the years, Scruggs won several awards.
He was the recipient of the M.L. King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Community Service Award presented by The Unity Group.
He was inducted into the African American Educators Hall of Fame by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
And he was presented the Local Lifetime Achievement Award by the 89th Annual Convention of the National Association of Negro
Here are just some of the tributes posted on his Facebook page today.
Cynthia D Ward
Booker Scruggs, (Upward Bound) passed away.
Mr. Scruggs dedicated most of his life trying to help inner city kids (self-included) attend college, and to be proud of who you are.. I am eternally grateful for his service. Stand up Upward Bound family!
Please keep his family in your prayers.
Terry Davis with Mario Lawrence and 5 others at Unaversoul Cultural Senter.
This city has just lost an truly amazing leader. I remember watching him on tv as a child and was excited to see self image locally… I was just excited to be around an intelligent African American man and take in anything I could. Just seeing what you did on TV and in the community you truly help shape me and inspired me to use my voice and platform more. Rest In Love. Booker Scruggs