Unvaxxed Journalist, Activist Mel Reeves Dies From COVID-19 At Age 64

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Mel Reeves, a longtime civil rights activist, and journalist in the Twin Cities died from complications of COVID-19 on Thursday, January 6, 2022.

The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, where Reeves served as the community editor, “with deep sadness” shared the news of the 64-year-old’s death on social media Thursday.

“Mel was a true champion for the underdog with a heart for social justice. He had an infectious personality and passion for life. He will be deeply missed by the MSR family,” said the paper, which is the country’s oldest continuously published Black newspaper.

Reeves tweeted a photo of himself on Dec. 20, 2021, saying he was battling COVID at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

“Been here for a few days now. Still battling. Be safe folks mask up!” he tweeted.

Dec. 30, 2021, saying he had COVID and pneumonia.

Despite being in the hospital, Reeves penned multiple stories for the Spokesman-Recorder, including the final front-page story of 2021, and continued to share updates on social media about his condition, with his last post on New Year’s Day. He also spoke with WCCO about his battle with COVID in a story published on Dec. 30, 2021, saying he had COVID and pneumonia.

He encouraged people to get vaccinated, wear a mask, social distance, and take COVID seriously. Reeves said he wasn’t yet vaccinated due to an issue with blood clots but when he spoke with WCCO he said his doctors believed he could now get vaccinated.

Reeves was moved to intensive care after his health had declined, Tracey Williams-Dillard, publisher of the Spokesman-Recorder, told MPR News.

The Spokesman-Recorder says Reeves was a father and grandfather. According to the Minneapolis Interview Project, Reeves said he was the youngest of 13 kids and was adopted when he was 1 year old. He grew up in a segregated neighborhood and moved to Minneapolis in 1980, eventually making his way into activism.

Larry Fitzgerald Sr., a columnist reporter and editor of the Spokesman-Recorder, knew Reeves for 25 years. He told MPR News Reeves was passionate about telling stories that helped to shed light on important issues in the Twin Cities.

Those who knew Reeves — or knew of him — shared their condolences and tributes on social media on Thursday. Here are some of them: