2020 Pulitzer Prize winners include many writers of color

May 28, 2020

There were a couple of firsts in this year’s announcement of the winners of the Pulitzer Prize. First off, it was done remotely on Monday, May 4, 2020, because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“It goes without saying that today, we announce the Pulitzer winners in deeply trying times,” said Dana Canedy, the administrator of the prizes, from her living room. “Despite relentless assaults on objective truth, coordinated efforts to undermine our nation’s free press and persistent economic headwinds, journalists continue to pursue and deliver essential facts and truths to keep us safe and protect our democracy.”

The other new twist was the inaugural award for audio reporting, which went to the staff of the public radio show and podcast, This American Life, along with Los Angeles Times reporter Molly O’Toole and Vice News freelance reporter Emily Green. The winning episode, “The Out Crowd,” covered the impact on individuals of President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policies.

The board also awarded a special citation to Ida B. Wells — the journalist and suffragist who spent the 1890s documenting lynching in the United States.

Along with Ida B. Wells, many writers of color were honored with Pulitzers this year. On the Arts and Letters side, author Colson Whitehead won his second Pulitzer for his novel, The Nickel Boys. It’s based on a real-life Florida reform school where students were physically and sexually abused (Whitehead previously won in 2017 for his book, The Underground Railroad. The board awarded the drama prize to Michael R. Jackson’s A Strange Loop — a musical about a gay black man working as an usher at a Broadway show, writing a musical about a gay black man working as an usher at a Broadway show.

In music, composer Anthony Davis won for his opera The Central Park Five; and in poetry the The Tradition by Jericho Brown took the prize.

On the Journalism side of the award, Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times won in the Commentary category.

The Pulitzer Prize is an award for achievements in newspaper, magazine and online journalism, literature, and musical composition in the United States. It was established in 1917 by provisions in the will of Joseph Pulitzer, who had made his fortune as a newspaper publisher, and is administered by Columbia University.