Photojournalist Boyd Lewis passed away on March 14.

Boyd Lewis, a photojournalist who captured Atlanta’s transformation throughout the 20th century, died March 14. He was 77 years old.

Lewis spent a large chunk of his career in the 1960s and 70s working for the Black-operated newspapers the Atlanta Inquirer and the Atlanta Voice. During his tenure, he photographed politicians, civil rights leaders, and numerous important historical figures. 

One of Lewis’s photos that hands in the Atlanta Voice’s offices. The photo shows Civil Rights activists John Lewis (left) and Julian Bond (right) before they ran against each other for Congress in 1986 (photo by Maria Saporta).

After working at both WABE and CNN, Lewis left journalism in 2000 to become a middle school English teacher in California. He donated more than 10,000 of his photographs to the Atlanta History Center. Lewis was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame in 2020. 

Lewis’s wife, Deborah Lewis, confirmed his passing to Rough Draft Atlanta in an emailed statement. According to Deborah, he suffered from a variety of illnesses over the years and went into hospice shortly before his passing.

“He was known as a legendary photojournalist, a civil rights advocate,  a classical music disc jockey, a reporter for WABE and NPR, the producer of Southwind,  a headline copywriter at CNN, the White Boy with the Black Press, Uncle Excitement, and Mr. Lewis, English Teacher,” she said. “To me, he was my friend, my soulmate and my husband of almost 32 years.” 

In addition to being a journalist, Lewis held a special connection to the Margaret Mitchell House. In an interview with Atlanta Magazine in 2016 before 60 of Boyd’s photos were put on display at the Atlanta landmark, he revealed that he was the last person to live in the apartment where Mitchell wrote her novel, “Gone With the Wind.” Mitchell also at one point served as a feature writer for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine.

“Margaret Mitchell of course was a journalist; the guy who built the house was a journalist; several of his daughters became journalists, one was a famous correspondent during WWI,” Lewis said in the interview. “So it felt like there was this legacy of journalism connected to the house.” 

A memorial will be held later this year, but no details have been set.

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.