The 2020 Pulitzer Prizes Honor Work That Centers People of Color

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm May 05, 2020

On May 4, Columbia University announced this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners, which included a “special citation” for civil rights activist and journalist Ida B. Wells (1862-1931), “for her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching,” according to the organization, in addition to other works that center people of color. Wells’ citation comes with funding of at least $50,000 in continued support of her mission.

Awardees represented 15 journalism and seven book, drama and music categories. Many of the winners were recognized for either reporting on or for writing narratives around race or about people of color. 

In the book category, writers of color stood out for their prose and poetry. This included Colson Whitehead’s novel “The Nickel Boys,” Jericho Brown’s poetry collection “The Tradition” and W. Caleb McDaniel’s historical account of freedom in “Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America.”

Reporting by journalists that prompted various discussions around race were awarded to Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times for the ground-breaking 1619 Project; the staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky. for their coverage of the governor’s last-minute pardons that showed racial disparities; and Ben Taub of The New Yorker for his report on a Guantanamo Bay detainee.

The music category honored Michael R. Jackson’s musical “A Strange Loop,” which explored issues of identity, race and sexuality, and composer Anthony Davis for his operatic rendition of “The Central Park Five.”

To see the complete list of winners, visit the Pulitzer Prize’s site.

Watch the announcement below: