The Norman and Louis Miller Lecture in Public Understanding Leonard Pitts, Jr., Pulitzer Prize Winning
Columnist "The Water in the Glass"
February 17, 2011 7:00 p.m. Walter Theatre, Pennings Hall of Fine Arts FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
From Casey’s Countdown to the Pulitzer Prize Recipient of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, Leonard Pitts, Jr. has been a syndicated columnist with the Miami Herald since 1994. His insightful and often provocative column, featured twice a week in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, is enjoyed by millions of readers around the country.
Pitts has been writing professionally since 1976 when, as an 18-year-old college student, he began doing freelance reviews and profiles for SOUL, a national black entertainment tabloid. Two years later, he was its editor. Pitts' work then appeared in such publications as Musician, Spin, TV Guide, Reader's Digest and Parenting. In addition, he wrote, produced and syndicated "Who We Are," an award-winning 1988 radio documentary on the history of Black America, and has written and produced numerous other radio programs on subjects as diverse as Madonna and Martin Luther King, Jr. Pitts was also a writer for radio's popular countdown program, Casey's Top 40 with Casey Kasem.
Additional Honors Pitts joined the Miami Herald in 1991 as its pop music critic. One year later he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Shortly after he began his biweekly column of commentary on pop culture, social issues and family life, Pitts took first place for commentary in division four (newspapers with a circulation of over 300,000) in the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors' Ninth Annual Writing Awards competition. He has since been honored by The Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He is a five-time recipient of the National Headliners Award. In 2001, he received the American Society of Newspaper Editors prestigious ASNE Award For Commentary Writing and was named Feature of the Year Columnist by Editor and Publisher magazine. In 2002, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists awarded Pitts its inaugural Columnist of the Year award. Also in 2002, GLAAD Media awarded Pitts the Outstanding Newspaper Columnist award. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 2004.
Forward from this Moment Pitts’ ability to connect with readers was particularly apparent in his initial column after the September 11, 2001 attacks. “We'll Go Forward From This Moment,” an angry and defiant open letter to the terrorists, circulated the globe via the Internet. It generated upwards of 30,000 emails, and has since been set to music, reprinted in poster form, read on television by Regis Philbin and quoted by Congressman Richard Gephardt as part of the Democratic Party's weekly radio address.
Of course, not every column has been so warmly received. Pitts has endured harassment and death threats, particularly from white supremacists. His response is characteristically bold: “Living in fear is an oxymoron.”
Pitts has served as a visiting professor at Hampton University (Hampton, Virginia), at Ohio University (Athens, Ohio), and at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, Virginia). He is the author of three books: Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood, the novel Before I Forget, and Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns. He lives in Bowie, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D. C., with his wife and five children.
This event is co-sponsored by the Green Bay Press-Gazette. It is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For more information, call Catherine at 920-403-3919.
Leonard Pitts, Jr. on "Conversations from St. Norbert College"
Norman Miller Center for Peace, Justice & Public Understanding