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Biographical Details of Leadership
Contemporary Lens on Black Leadership
Historical Focus on Race
Roger Wilkins was a civil rights leader who made significant contributions to academia, journalism, and public affairs.
After receiving his law degree from the University of Michigan, Wilkins went on to a career in public affairs, serving as Assistant Attorney General during the Johnson administration. Additionally, Wilkins served as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Africa America Institute and as a member of the Board of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He was the publisher of NAACP's journal, Crisis, and previously served as chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board. Wilkins was also an appointed member of the District of Columbia Board of Education.
A distinguished journalist, Wilkins wrote for both The New York Times and the Washington Post. While on the editorial staff of the Washington Post, he shared the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for Watergate coverage with Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein, and Herbert Lawrence Block. His highly acclaimed autobiography, A Man's Life (1982), was reprinted in 1991. Wilkins also worked with Fred Harris to co-edit Quiet Riots in 1988. His book Jefferson's Pillow (2001) examines the ideals of the founding fathers who declared "men were created equal" while still owning slaves and won a NAIBA book award in 2002.
Wilkins was the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University in Washington, D.C., until his retirement in 2007.
Roger Wilkins died on March 26, 2017.