119 Greg Hall
J.D., Georgetown University Law Center
M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Journalism)
B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Journalism)
Associate Dean, College of Media
Associate Professor in Journalism
Associate Professor in African American Studies
Magazine Writing (Journalism)
Hate Crimes (African American Studies)
Blacks and the Press (African American Studies)
Benson earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in journalism at the University of Illinois and his J.D. at Georgetown University. He has been at the University of Illinois since Fall 2005. He has dual appointments in the Department of Journalism and the Department of African American Studies, and is a faculty affiliate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has served on numerous campus, college and department committees, including the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiatives Committee; Inclusive Illinois Committee; the Provost’s Advisory Group; the Illinois Humanities Board; search committees for the Department of Journalism and College of Media; and the Strategic Plan Committee for the Department of African American Studies.
He has served as a radio reporter in Chicago, as Washington Editor of Ebony magazine, and has written for Chicago, Savoy, Jet, and The Crisis magazines, and has contributed to The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and Reader’s Digest. He has written a weekly column for N’Digo, a Black alternative weekly in Chicago, and recently started writing a blog for the Chicago edition of the Huffington Post.
Benson is co-author with Mamie Till-Mobley of her memoir, “Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America” (Random House, October 2003), about the life and death of Mrs. Mobley’s son, Emmett Till, and the history-making changes that followed. The book won the 2004 BlackBoard Nonfiction Book of the Year Award and the 2003 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award Special Recognition. Benson also was a co-writer and associate producer of the WTTW Channel 11 documentary, “Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender,” first broadcast by the Chicago PBS station in June 2005. He was honored with two of the documentary’s three 2005-2006 regional Emmy Awards and with the 2005 Peter Lisagor Award for exemplary journalism (documentary). Recently, Benson wrote Matt Damon’s narration script for the documentary feature, “Running the Sahara,” which was screened at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival and scheduled for summer 2008 release. He also edited “Don’t Block the Blessings: Revelations of a Lifetime,” Patti LaBelle’s New York Times bestseller and NAACP Image Award-winner, written with Laura Randolph (Riverhead/Putnam, October 1996).