Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil Rights Columnist Dies

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Patterson One of America’s Most Highly Regarded Journalists


Newspaper editor and columnist Eugene Patterson, who helped fellow Southern whites understand the civil rights movement, has died of complications from cancer. A family spokesman says he died Saturday night, surrounded by family and friends at his Florida home. Patterson was 89.

Patterson’s famous column about the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church was considered so moving that Walter Cronkite asked him to read it nationally on the “CBS Evening News.” Here’s a link to the full column: Flower for the Graves.

Patterson was editor of the Atlanta Journal (now the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) when he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for editorial writing. He also served as the managing editor of The Washington Post before coming the St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times) in 1972. Under his leadership, the Times won two Pulitzer Prizes and became known as one of the top newspapers in the country.

Listen to NPR’s remembrance of Patterson.