WASHINGTON, DC (July 17, 2012) – The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) mourns the loss of veteran Washington Post columnist, Pulitzer Prize Winner, and recipient of the NABJ Lifetime Achievement Award William Raspberry. He died Tuesday at the age of 76.
Raspberry’s career spanned nearly 60 years beginning with various positions at The Indianapolis Recorder, the city’s trailblazing African-American newspaper. He would later join The Washington Post, as a columnist in 1966 following service in the Armed Forces.
"NABJ is deeply saddened by the loss of Bill Raspberry. While he may have authored the book "Looking Backward at Us,” William Raspberry opened the hearts and minds of many as he compelled us to look at ourselves and to look around at the world, right there in the moment. His thought-provoking columns on social and political issues inspired readers to seek out truth, and to seek change where they saw inequity and injustice,” said Gregory Lee Jr., NABJ President and former Post colleague, from 1999-2004. "He blazed a trail for many black journalists who followed him at The Post, and as a professor inspired those who will help lead us tomorrow. His legacy should inspire us all. Our thoughts and prayers are of course with his wife Sondra, and their family.”
"Bill was a wonderful colleague, always had a smile and time to chat. He was generous with his knowledge, sharing sources, writing tips and survival skills,” said Vanessa Williams, fellow Washington Post colleague and former NABJ President.
Raspberry’s first column appeared in the Metro section of The Post in 1966 before it later moved to the opinion/editorial section. In syndication his column appeared in hundreds of daily newspapers. His body of work earned him The Pulitzer Prize in 1994, and that same year he received NABJ’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Raspberry's last column ran December 26, 2005, though he penned a guest column for the paper following the election of President Barack Obama. Raspberry was the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism and Public Policy Studies at Duke University. In 2006 he was inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame.
"William Raspberry leaves a tremendous legacy in word and deed for all journalists to follow. For decades, he fearlessly covered issues of race and poverty -- topics many still shy away from today. The pages of The Post and our society as a whole were enriched by his contributions as a man and a black journalist,” said Errin Haines, NABJ Vice President of Print and a newswoman at The Associated Press' Atlanta bureau who covers race and Southern politics.