Harold Dow, of the CBS news program “48 Hours,” died this past Saturday, Aug. 21, at the age of 62. Cause of death has yet to be determined, but early speculation from family and other sources point toward a possible asthma attack that turned into an unexpected tragedy. A five-time Emmy winner, he started out as a CBS contributor in 1986, with a piece called “48 Hours on Crack Street,” which morphed into the program where he would spend the rest of his career. Initially a contributor, in 1990 he would become a correspondent, a position he would hold until his sudden death.
There are many causes and stories that come to people’s minds when reflecting back on Dow’s work, but one of them in particular this last couple of years stuck out to me. As a young person, I have no personal reflections on the civil rights movement of the 1960s since I had no part in it. Like everyone my age, I learned about the struggles of the nation, most particularly African-Americans, during this particular period in our history in school. But, as someone who grew up in a very mixed-race environment, it seemed very distant to me in some ways.
When Barack Obama was elected president, like the rest of the nation, I understood that it was a historic moment, but it was pieces that I watched, like Harold Dow’s “The Legacy of Medgar Evers,” during the inaugural celebrations that made the connection for me between past history and present. Like many good pieces of journalism, that one made me not only see clearly the line from civil rights activists like Evers to the possibility of an African-American President of the United States, but perhaps unintentionally drew the spotlight more toward someone who had been continuing the fight for equality all the way from Evers’ day to this: Myrlie Evers, Medgar’s widow. By choosing to focus on Myrlie as a living link between past and present, Dow was able to place the struggle for equality in context while giving a true sense of just how long it had taken since the days of the civil rights movement for us to see hints of true equality within our government.
Many others will remember Dow for his popular “48 Hours Mystery” segments. Linking in to both current and older cases, ongoing and completed, he explored how people acted and reacted in instances of murder, following individuals and circumstances through the conclusion (if there was one) of the story. Still others will remember the interviews with O.J. Simpson and Patricia Hearst. Throughout his long career, Dow focused on personal stories to draw larger connections with his audience. With his death, he leaves behind a highly respected resume of some 40 years of in-depth journalism, as well as a long marriage to his wife Kathy and three children.
Harold Dow “The Legacy of Medgar Evers” CBSNews.com
“Harold Dow, Veteran CBS News Correspondent, Dies” CBSNews.com