TACOMA, Wash. – Leonard Pitts Jr., the Pulitzer Prize-winning national columnist, will deliver the fall Pierce Lecture at University of Puget Sound.
“An Evening With Leonard Pitts Jr.” will take place on Monday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m., in Schneebeck Concert Hall. Ticket information and a map of campus are below. Advance purchase is recommended.
The lecture and Q&A will give audiences a closer look at a commentator who rose to prominence by speaking with the kind of raw honesty you might expect from an intimate friend, on issues as vast as the country’s future (“America has gone mad and there’s no place to hide”) and as focused as the hot-tin-roof nature of politically correct language (“How I got in trouble with ‘ladies’”).
During a 40-year career, Pitts has been a radio producer, author, college professor, lecturer, and columnist. His work was recognized with the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary; the inaugural 2002 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ Columnist of the Year Award; the National Association of Black Journalists’ 2008 Journalist of the Year award; and, in 2001, the American Society of News Editors’ prestigious ASNE Mike Royko Award for Commentary Writing, among many other honors.
Pitts is the author of five books and most recently published Grant Park (2015), a compelling story about a black writer and a white editor, which drew this praise from the Chicago Tribune:
“Race is not a simple thing. Often there is no right or wrong, just a foggy middle ground full of questions without answers. Leonard Pitts Jr.’s Grant Park rings clearly with this truth.”
Pitts wrote the suspense novel Freeman (2012), which The Washington Post described as “a uniquely American epic,” and Before I Forget (2009), about a faded soul singer whose early onset Alzheimer’s disease reconnects him with his family.
In addition, the popular columnist published two nonfiction books: Becoming Dad (2006), about black fatherhood and his own experience of growing up, and Forward From This Moment, a collection of his columns that took its name from a defiant piece he wrote right after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York—a column that generated some 30,000 emails, and that was read on television, printed on posters, put to music, and quoted by a congressman.
Born and raised in Southern California, Pitts started writing while still a child and published his first magazine story at age 14. Five years later he earned a degree in English from University of Southern California, having entered college at 15 on a special honors program. He spent almost the first two decades of his working life as a music critic for magazines and radio programs, including his current employer, the Miami Herald.
The Miami newspaper recognized its music critic’s singular talent within a few years of his start and offered him a column. Before long the new platform was reaching millions of readers a week. A highly successful writing and lecturing career followed, as well as invitations to teach classes at Princeton University and George Washington University. In 2008 Pitts received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Old Dominion University.
The lecture by Leonard Pitts Jr. is sponsored by the Susan Resneck Pierce Lectures in Public Affairs and the Arts, University of Puget Sound’s premier lecture series. The series brings intellectuals, public figures, writers, and artists to the university to present challenging ideas that stimulate further exploration and discussion on campus.
Past Pierce lecturers have included The Washington Post political writer E.J. Dionne; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz; Nobel Prize laureate Wole Soyinka; economist Robert Reich; author Carlos Fuentes; psychiatrist Kay Redfield Jamison; filmmaker Spike Lee; the Hon. Cory Booker, now a
U.S. senator; political commentator David Brooks; columnist Thomas Friedman; playwright Edward Albee; race and religion scholar Cornel West; musician Philip Glass; playwright Suzan-Lori Parks; dancer and choreographer Twyla Tharp; historian and television host Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat; former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder; and Jamaican-American novelist Marlon James.
FOR TICKETS: Tickets are available online at tickets.pugetsound.edu, or at Wheelock Information Center,253.879.3100. Admission is $20 for the general public. The lecture is free for Puget Sound faculty, staff, and students with ID, but tickets are required. Any remaining tickets will be available at the door.Print This Post