Michel Marriott, Pioneer Veteran Journalist, Dies at 69
by Richard Prince,
Michel Marriott, a veteran of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., and an author who taught at New York’s Baruch College, died shortly after midnight Saturday after “a very long battle” with multiple myeloma, his wife, Angela Pruitt-Marriott, told Journal-isms.
Marriott had been diagnosed with the disease in 2018 and died at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, where he had been since March 11. He had been visited by a stream of family and friends, she said. The journalist turned 69 on March 8.
Marriott spent 19 years at the Times, starting in 1987 and ending in 2007, except for a year in the 1990s when he worked for Newsweek.
At times, Marriott covered several beats, including New York’s City Hall, national education, urban poverty, and drug abuse, as well the racial and ethnic conflagrations of the Los Angeles and Miami riots.
Beginning in 1998, Michel began to write exclusively about high technology for the Times’ weekly technology section, “Circuits,” and the impact of consumer electronics on American culture.
His stories included Black cultural milestones and issues that remain hot-button today:, “New York’s Worst Drug Sites: Persistent Markets of Death,” from 1989; in 1993, “Rap’s Embrace of ‘Nigger’ Fires Bitter Debate” and “For Minority Youths, 40 Ounces of Trouble,” and in 1992, the launch of Vibe magazine under the headline, “Hip-Hop’s Hostile Takeover.“
Baruch College wrote of Marriott in 2007, when he joined its faculty:
“A graduate of Morehead State University and Northwestern University (earning a B.A. and M.S. in print journalism, respectively), he began his career as a writer for the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Ind., leading to staff positions at The Courier-Journal in his native Louisville, Ky., The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Daily News, and Newsweek magazine.
“Before joining Baruch College, Michel had been an adjunct professor of journalism at City College and Columbia University, as well as a frequent instructor at the Antioch Writers’ Summer Workshop, the Antioch Writing Institution, and the Frederick Douglass Center for the Creative Arts.”
More recently, Marriott taught writing workshops, published the novels “The Matrix Cultural Revolution: How Deep Does The Rabbit Hole Go?” (2003) and “The Skull Cage Key” (2004), and served on the board of Kweli Journal, which says that since its 2009 launch it “has grown into a multifaceted community organization that offers numerous writing, mentorship, and educational opportunities.”
In 2021, Marriott guest-edited an edition of African Voices, celebrating “the art of memoir writing.”
In addition to his wife, Marriott is survived by three children, Khari Marriott, Tarafa Vera Marriott and Olivia Marriott, and two brothers, Louis, and Jon Marriott.
Services will not be immediate, Pruitt-Marriott said.