Last Modified: Thursday, May 16, 2013 11:23 AM
Longtime Lake Charles media business owner Lawrence “Gumbeaux” Morrow, 59, died Monday, leaving behind a legacy of business leadership and social activism.
Morrow, who battled a number of health issues over the last several years, gained notoriety in the city when he began publishing Gumbeaux Magazine in 1991. Initially, 10,000 copies of the free publication were printed and over the course of two decades, the enterprise grew into GumboMedia, which included a business portfolio of Internet, radio and television productions.
The Rev. J.L. Franklin said he will miss his friend. “He was concerned about people and the community,” Franklin said. “He tried to keep neutral on issues, but sometimes his passion stood out.”
Morrow covered issues related to the African-American community, even though the scope of his media organization was cross-cultural. His magazine covered the Calcasieu Parish School Board, elections, the James Byrd murder, and the prison release of Wilbert Rideau.
“Wilbert and I talked yesterday (Tuesday), and he said Lawrence played a vital role in his case. Lawrence did everything he could to get the word out about the case, and Wilbert is grateful,” Franklin said.
Mark Senegal, owner of Play Makers prints, views Morrow as an example and inspiration for anyone who is a business owner or considering starting an enterprise.
Morrow, who could be considered a media wildcatter, was a driven person, Senegal said.
“He started in the paper and ink age. If you speed time up, maybe 15 years, who knows how large his network would have been with today’s technology.”
District A City Councilman Marshall Simien said Morrow and Faye Blackwell, owner of KZWA-FM, are both pioneers in the local media sector.
“They are two of the most important voices for the black community in Southwest Louisiana,” Simien said. “I liked Lawrence’s energy. He was about the bottom line but had a soulful spirit.”
Bobby Celestine wrote regularly for Gumbeaux and said Morrow was interested in stories that looked at different sides of issues.
“Here was a community (African-American) that didn’t have a voice despite having African-Americans at the television station and newspaper (in Lake Charles). There are other sides or issues about the African-American community that do not get touched, and Lawrence tried to do that,” he said. “He wanted to make sure that all sides of a story are told since most of the time mainstream media rely on whatever they get from the government.”
Morrow was interested in justice for the community too, Celestine said.
City Councilwoman-elect Mary Morris said Morrow was a believer in free press.
“He started the newspaper and gave people a voice. I hope someone will be able to do what he did. He also gave credence to people who wanted to write and tell their own stories,” she said.
Morrow was born in Orange, Texas, in 1953 and was raised in Vinton.
Before starting the magazine, Morrow operated a copy repair and sales center on Hodges Street. Morrow also worked as a salesman at radio station KXZZ-AM.
Morrow’s funeral arrangements are pending through Fondel Memorial Chapel.
Posted By: Bobbie Celestine On: 5/18/2013
Title: Lawrence Morrow
Thanks to the American Press for the excellent coverage on the passing of Lawrence Morrow. The story enlightens the areas of concern to parts of the African-American that often overlooked. Again thanks to Eric. Great reporting Eric, although the Lake area knows of the great job you do.