ABOVE PHOTO: Heshimu Jaramogi
By Bobbi Booker
Heshimu Jaramogi, the award winning newsman and publisher of The Neighborhood Leader, died peacefully at home on January 14 one month after his diagnosis of colon cancer. He was 67.
The producer, host and anchor boasted a media career that spanned over 35 years, including WPEN AM where he covered city government; WCAU AM, where he worked as a general assignment reporter; and at Clear Channel Communications where he held multiple positions at radio stations WDAS AM and FM, WUSL (Power 99 FM); WJJZ; WURD and WRTI. He also served as a correspondent with American Urban Radio Networks for more than two decades.
His articles and photos appeared in The Philadelphia Tribune, the Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Philadelphia New Observer. He also founded and owned his own media company, Jaramogi Communications, which produced audio, video, social media and print products, including The Neighborhood Leader newspaper.
Long before the term existed, he carved out his own niche as a multimedia journalist while working competitively, yet diplomatically, alongside fellow Philly reporters covering world leaders, change agents and common folk.
A graduate of Northeastern Illinois University, Heshimu always had a finger on the pulse of politics, social justice and the course it ran through the urban communities that he frequented beyond Philadelphia that often included New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, Detroit and wherever he sought to examine.
He worked as an adjunct professor at Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab, and lectured at many other colleges and universities, including Malcolm X College, Foothill College, Wayne State University and the University of Pennsylvania.
Heshimu also served as a media consultant for AFSCME District Council 47 and worked as a media buyer and advertising producer on the political campaigns of U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and Arlen Specter, Gov. Tom Corbett, Congressman Bob Brady and District Attorney Lynne Abraham.
While he eschewed the initial calls into the ministry as a youth, he’d grown to become a spiritual seeker on an unquenchable thirst for self-knowledge. The veteran correspondent embraced the title, “Baba Hesh,” and served as a dedicated modern day griot, merging oral, written and new media story techniques to connect disparate parts of the African Diaspora. His never-ending work as a journalist was done from a place of love and uncompromising commitment to what was right for the community.
As news of his transition spread, social media posts hailed the West Philadelphia native as a local success story. Friends, colleagues and denizens fondly recalled a stylish, professional man with an insatiable drive to learn—to question, explore, and study his culture and faith ceaselessly—topped by a dazzling smile often accompanied by a series of body-quaking chuckles.
Heshimu is preceded in death by his parents, Rosa Braxton Wilson and James H. Wilson, Sr. and is survived by his daughter Asha Jaramogi; son, Anwar Neale-Jaramogi (Laura); one granddaughter, Inas; sister, Tamara Simmons (Daniel); nephews, Marcus and Maurice; niece, Jovoni Simmons; two uncles, Willie Braxton (Geraldine) and Charles Braxton (Portia); two aunts, Ida Chapple and Grace Braxton; partner, Tremain Smith, her children Sarah, Maya and Gus; and a whole host of cousins, family and friends.