Leonard Pitts

Award Year: 
2010
Recipient Name: 
Leonard Pitts
Brief Summary: 
Leonard Pitts, Jr. joined The Miami Herald in 1991 as its pop music critic. Since 1994, he has penned a syndicated column of commentary on pop culture, social issues and family life. His book, Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood, was released in May, 1999 and was reissued in paperback in 2006. In March of 2009, he published his first novel, Before I Forget.
Biography: 

Leonard Pitts, Jr. joined The Miami Herald in 1991 as its pop music critic. Since 1994, he has penned a syndicated column of commentary on pop culture, social issues and family life. His book, Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood, was released in May, 1999 and was reissued in paperback in 2006. In March of 2009, he published his first novel, Before I Forget.

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. In the years since then, Pitts' work has 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.

Pitts was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1992. In 1997, 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. The Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others, have honored him.

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.
In 2003 and 2004, Pitts was a visiting professor teaching journalism at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. In 2005-2006 he was a journalism professor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

Twice each week, millions of newspaper readers around the country seek out his rich and uncommonly resonant voice. In a word, he connects with them. Nowhere was this demonstrated more forcefully than in the response to his initial column on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Pitts' column, "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.

Leonard Pitts was born and raised in Southern California. Since 1995, he has lived in Bowie, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D. C., with his wife and five children.

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