October 20, 2005 – Vol. 41, No. 10

Activist and journalist Mackie McLeod III dies at age 57

Vidya Rao

Mackie J. McLeod III, an activist, journalist and commentator whose passions lay with development in Africa and within African American communities, died from complications of kidney disease October 9th in Washington, DC at the age of 57.

Born in Roxbury and raised in Randolph, McLeod attended San Francisco State College and the Fellows Program at MIT. His parents, Hazel Campbell and Mackie McLeod II were both civil rights activists.

McLeod traveled and worked all over the world beginning with his volunteer work with the United Nations Development Program in Dakar, Senegal during the 1970s. McLeod remained connected to Africa, not only by being deeply engaged with U.S. foreign policy toward Africa, but also by living in South Africa and Zimbabwe for various periods of time.

In Boston, McLeod was best known for his work as a broadcaster focusing on politics for several local media outlets, including WILD, WBUR, WBCN and WGBH. While he was producing the show “On Being Black” for WGBH, McLeod met his wife of 37 years, Zubaida Price. It was while on the air that McLeod came up with the phrase, “If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own.” He also wrote commentary on African politics for publications such as Dollars and Sense.

McLeod also served as a media consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, later becoming an advisor to the Washington, DC chapter of the ACLU.

Although he was involved in civil rights and organizing against the Vietnam War, McLeod’s heart and soul still rested with humanitarian issues and development in Africa.

Throughout the 1980s, he worked as the public relations director for the Boston-based nonprofit, Grassroots International, which focused on alleviating famine in West Africa.

McLeod also played a pivotal role in the local anti-apartheid movement, mobilizing both businesses and nonprofits. In 1992, McLeod became executive director of the Lotus Information Technology Education Fund, relocating with his family to Johannesburg, South Africa. McLeod worked with American corporations as a social investment advisor. At Lotus Technology, McLeod pushed the company to provide technology to hundreds of South African youth, small businesses and educational institutions.

In the late 1990s, as his health began to fail, McLeod and his wife returned to the United States to live with his daughter Zambia, settling in Silver Spring, Maryland.

McLeod leaves his wife, Zubaida Price McLeod, his daughter Zambia McLeod Davis, a son-in-law Willie Davis, a grandson, Miles Dakari Davis, all of Silver Spring, MD, and brothers David McLeod of Chicago and Gearey McLeod of Los Angeles. Family and friends will hold a remembrance to honor the life of Mackie J. McLeod III on Nov. 26 at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, DC.



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