THE ATLANTA PRESS CLUB HALL OF FAME 2016 INDUCTEE
Eugene Patterson was born in Valdosta, Georgia. His father worked at a local bank, but when it closed during the Great Depression, the family moved to Adel, Georgia, where Patterson began work at the Adel News as a teenager.
Patterson rose from Depression-poor south Georgia, graduated from the University of Georgia, fought bravely with General Patton’s Third Army in World War II, and reached journalism’s seats of power at The Atlanta Constitution, The Washington Post, The St. Petersburg Times and The Poynter Institute.
As managing editor of the Post, Patterson helped convince Publisher Katherine Graham to publish the Pentagon Papers.
It was his work as editor and columnist at the Constitution, writing a signed column seven days a week for eight years, from 1960 to 1968, that earned him a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing in 1967. His columns exposed those who were fighting against the civil rights movement, supported those who bled and died for it and, as a result, put his own life and his families’ lives at risk.
The column he wrote on Sunday, September 15, 1963, the day four children were murdered in the Birmingham church bombing, called “A Flower for the Graves,” stands as one of the most powerful calls for changed hearts and changed minds across the South and the rest of the nation — a column for all times, a beacon — in the history of civil rights journalism.
As Robert McFaddden of The New York Times wrote, “In 41 years as a reporter, editor and news executive, Mr. Patterson... was one of America’s most highly regarded journalists — a plain-talking, hard-driving competitor known for fairness and integrity as the nation confronted racial turmoil, divisions over the Vietnam War and new ethical challenges in journalism.”
Patterson died in 2013 at the age of 89.
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The late Eugene Patterson was inducted into The Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame on Tuesday, November 29, 2016. Civil rights leader Xernona Clayton presented his award. Clayton was inducted into the APC Hall of Fame in 2012.
Gene Patterson’s granddaughters, Laura Carter Fausch Price and Emily Carr Fausch, accepted his award.
The ceremony was held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia and emceed by Karyn Greer.
The Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, & Rare Book Library director Rosemary M. Magee announced that Patterson’s papers rich in history will be housed at the Rose Library at Emory University.
Patterson’s son-in-law James Carr “Jay” Fausch and Roy Peter Clark — Poynter Institute, Vice President and Senior Scholar, Reporting, Writing & Editing Faculty in St. Petersburg, Florida — both expressed their appreciation of the preservation of the Patterson papers.
Tribute video production by: Richard Crabbe, Kettle Creek Media, photo journalist; Jon Shirek, WXIA-TV and Hall of Fame Event Chair, writing and producing; and Jaye Watson, 11Alive, narration.
Biography from The Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame 2016 program.
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