Curry was the son of domestic worker Martha Brownlee and mechanic Homer Lee Curry of Tuscaloosa, and grew up there as a friend of future Southern Christian Leadership Conference president Charles Steele. He attended Druid High School and went on to Knoxville College in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was a co-captain of the Bulldogs football team and editor of the sports section in the school newspaper. He spent summers during college studying at Harvard University and Yale University.
Curry began his writing career at Sports Illustrated and the St Louis, Missouri Post-Dispatch. In 1983 he joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune and began writing community interest stories, including the perspective of the city's black residents during the 1984 presidential campaign, which included the candidacy of Jesse Jackson. He accompanied Jackson to the Vatican for a January 1985 meeting with Pope John Paul II.
He continued with the Tribune as chief of its New York City bureau and as a Washington correspondent. He was editor-in-chief of the award-winning Emerge magazine from 1993 to 2000 and served a term as president of the American Society of Magazine Editors. His 1993 cover feature on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was accompanied by a controversial front-page illustration of Thomas wearing an "Aunt Jemima" style head scarf. Another feature, about a girl sentenced to 24 1/2 years in prison for a minor drug offense, eventually led President Bill Clinton to pardon her in December 2000.
Curry was also active in the National Newspaper Publishers Association and was served as editor-in-chief of the NNPA's News Service from 2001 to 2007 and from 2012 to 2015. He traveled to Qatar to cover the Iraq War for that organization. He secured the first exclusive interview with General Vincent Brooks after the fall of Baghdad. He wrote and narrated the "Frontline" special "Assault on Affirmative Action", which aired on PBS in 1986. He also appeared as a commentator on numerous television news programs and was a regular guest on Al Sharpton's weekly "Keepin' It Real" radio program.
Curry was invited by the Organization of Black Students to deliver the George E. Kent Lecture at the University of Chicago in 2000. He was the founding director of the St Louis Minority Journalism Workshop (1977) and organized journalism workshops for high school students in Washington D.C. and New York City. He has also contributed to student journalism programs in Germany and Senegal. He served on the boards of trustees for Knoxville College, the Kemba N. Smith Foundation, the National Press Foundation, St Paul Saturdays, and Young D.C.
Curry was honored as "Journalist of the Year" by the National Association of Black Journalists in 2003 and has received many other awards and honorary degrees during his career.
- Curry, George E. (1977) Jake Gaither: America's Most Famous Black Coach. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.
- Curry, George E., ed. (1996) The Affirmative Action Debate. Perseus Books
- Curry, George E., ed. (2003) The Best of Emerge. Ballantine Books
- "George E. Curry to be laid to rest in Alabama" (August 23, 2016) Associated Press/Al.com
- "George E. Curry" (August 24, 2016) Wikipedia - accessed August 24, 2016