October 14, 1997, Greencastle, Ind. - Roger Wilkins, a distinguished journalist, author, professor and attorney, says, "A black writer can hardly ever escape the weight of race in this culture." In an address at DePauw University, Wilkins added, "The blacks you see on the 10 o'clock news are either criminals or star athletes. You don't get to see the regular black people who get up every day, go to work and do their jobs."
Wilkins is on campus today and tomorrow as part of the University's continuing series of conversations on race. He discussed "How the Media Covers Race" with Richard J. Roth, DePauw associate professor of English, today at 4 p.m. in the Center for Contemporary Media's Watson Forum. Wilkins will join with DePauw senior Jonathan V. Fortt in a conversation spanning the generations titled "My Times, Your Times" on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the Watson Forum. Fortt is editor-in-chief of The DePauw, the University's student newspaper.
Wilkins' appearance at DePauw is part a year-long focus on issues of race. The first speaker in the series was Bill Bradley, former senior United States senator from New Jersey, on September 10. Upcoming speakers include Gwen Ifill, NBC News national correspondent, on October 28, and Jonathan Kozol, popular author of books on education and social justice, on November 11.
As a member of the editorial staff of the Washington Post, Wilkins received a Pulitzer Prize -- along with Woodward, Bernstein and Herblock -- for coverage of Watergate, and he served as chair of the Pulitzer Prize board in 1988. He has been a commentator on National Public Radio since 1990. Previously, he served as an associate editor at the Washington Star, member of the editorial board and columnist for the New York Times, and a commentator for CBS News and the Mutual Broadcasting System.
His numerous leadership positions include: chairman of the board of trustees of the African-American Institute, member of the steering committee of the Free South Africa Movement, national coordinator of Nelson Mandela's 1990 visit to the United States, senior adviser to Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988, member of the steering committee of Black Community Crusade for Children, member of the board of directors of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, commissioner of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, chair of the Higher Education Issues Panel of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and member of the board of directors of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Wilkins was an assistant attorney general of the United States 1966-69, assistant director of the U.S. Community Relations Service 1964-66 and a special assistant to the administrator of the Agency for International Development 1962-64. He was a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies from 1982-92.
Among the awards he has received are: Pro Bono Award from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Roger Baldwin Career Service Award from the New York Civil Liberties Union, Roy Wilkins Career Civil Rights Contributions Award from the Los Angeles NAACP and 10 honorary degrees.
He is the author of two books, A Man's Life and Quiet Riots. Currently, Wilkins serves as the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University. He received a bachelor's degree in 1953 and law degree in 1956 at the University of Michigan.