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Pulitzer-Prize winning columnist to present Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Public Affairs Lecture
Syracuse University’s 29th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Public Affairs Lecture will feature syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr., of The Miami Herald, who won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. Pitts will present “The Beloved Community” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, in Gifford Auditorium. A book signing will take place immediately following the lecture.
Sponsored by the Department of African American Studies (AAS) in The College of Arts and Sciences with additional funding from the Office of the Chancellor, the lecture is free and open to the public. Paid parking is available in the Irving garage ($4). People with disabilities may park in the Q1 lot.
Additionally, AAS will host an open classroom conversation with Pitts, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, in Sims Hall, Room 219. The session is free and open to the public.
The 2004 Pulitzer jury cited Pitts for “fresh, vibrant columns that spoke, with both passion and compassion, to ordinary people on often divisive issues.” The evening of Sept. 11, 2001, Pitts penned one of his most enduring columns, “We’ll go forward from this moment” (published on Sept. 12, 2001)—700 words that reverberated across the country. Readers deluged him with more than 26,000 emails and the column went viral across the Internet.
In 2008, Pitt wrote, “I Am a Man,” a series of columns commemorating the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. He is the author of “Before I Forget” (Agate Bolden, 2009), a novel depicting the lives of three generations of black men, and “Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood” (Agate Bolden, 2006), an unflinching investigation, both personal and journalistic, of black fatherhood in America.
In addition to the Pulitzer, Pitts received the American Society of Newspaper Editors’ top award for his commentary in 2001 and, in 2000, the Society of Professional Journalists presented him with its Fellow of the Society award, one of the organization’s highest honors. Pitts also won awards from the National Association of Black Journalists, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others. He is a three-time recipient of the National Headliners Award.
Pitts, 54, entered the University of Southern California at the age of 15 under a special honors program. He graduated summa cum laude four years later with a degree in English. He was a former editor of Soul, a pioneering national black entertainment magazine. His work has also appeared in The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Oui, Musician, Billboard, Essence, TV Guide, Parenting and Reader’s Digest. He has written for all-news radio stations KFWB and KNX in Los Angeles; was the co-creator and editor of Radioscope, a black entertainment radio newsmagazine; and wrote for Casey Kasem’s Top 40.