Remembering William Raspberry
William Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist for The Washington Post, died July 17, 2012, at age 76.
For nearly 40 years, until he retired in 2005, Raspberry's popular and often-controversial columns covered a wide range of topics, including civil rights, street violence, social justice and education. He was known for his passionate views and respect of opinions that differed from his. His Pulitzer Prize was awarded in 1994 for commentary.
Raspberry was a college freshman when he worked at his first newspaper — a summer job at the African-American weekly, Indianapolis Recorder. He began his career at the Post in 1962, after serving in the Army as a public information officer. He started out as a teletypist and was later promoted to a reporter.
In 1965, Raspberry was named Journalist of the Year by the Capital Press Club for his coverage of the Watts riots in Los Angeles. He became a columnist in 1966, joining the late Carl Rowan, a former Newseum trustee, as the only black syndicated columnist writing for a major U.S. newspaper. In 1974, Time magazine called Raspberry "the most respected black voice on any white U.S. newspaper."
Raspberry received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1994 for his "clarity of thought and his insistence on speaking the truth as he sees it — even when others disagree."
After his retirement from the Post, Raspberry formed a foundation in his hometown of Okolona, Miss., to help disadvantaged children succeed through education. Education was the topic of Raspberry's last regular column in the Post.
"I still believe in the magic of education," he said. "It scares me that the parents of so many young children today don't believe in the magic."
Raspberry is currently featured in the Newseum's database of distinguished news journalists.