Georgia Center for the Book

Eugene Patterson

Georgia Connections

  • Adel, Cook County

Notes of Interest

Eugene Patterson, a Georgia native, is one of America's most distinguished 20th century journalists and won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for his editorials in the Atlanta Constitution. His editorials spoke directly to white Southerners and urged them to accept equality between the races in the mnidst of an era of violence and racial conflict. He also served as a top editor for two other major newspapers, The Washington Post and the St. Petersburg Times.

Eugene Patterson was born November 17, 1923, on a farm near Adel. He grew up there and went to the University of Georgia, receiving his A.B. degree in journalism in 1943. He joined the U.S. Army in World War II and served as a tank platoon leader with General George Patton's Third Army in Europe. He began his career in journalism as a reporter for newspapers in Texas and Macon and joined United Press in 1948, with assignments in Atlanta, New York and London. In 1956 he became the executive editor of the Atlanta Constitution and succeeded its legendary editor, Ralph McGill, in 1960. He was awarded the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for his outspoken editorials in that newspaper.

In 1968, he became the managing editor of The Washington Post, taught at Duke University 1971-72 and joined the St. Petersburg Times as editor, later becoming head of the Times Publishing Co. and the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based educational "think-tank" organization for journalists. He retired from the Times and the Poynter Institute in 1988. He was President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors 1977-78, and in 1980 was given the Willliam Allen White Award for Journanlistic Excellence. A book of his collected editorials from the Atlanta Constitution, "The Changing South of Gene Patterson: Journalism and Civil Rights, 1960-1968," was published in 2002.

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