Deggans to introduce Pulitzer Prize winner Eugene Robinson today at Tiger Bay dinner
About 15 years ago, I stepped into the Washington Post's newsroom to make the case for why I should be their new music critic, and I met a lot of legendary journalists.
Steve Coll, then the paper's managing editor, had already won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Securities and Exchange Commission and would win another years later for a book on the shadowy world on the CIA. Milton Coleman, then the deputy managing editor, had broken news that Jesse Jackson used the word "Hymietown" to refer to New York City, sending shock waves through the 1984 presidential campaign.
But nobody made an impression on me like Eugene Robinson, then the editor of the Post's features section, called Style.
I didn't get that Washington Post job -- which turned out just fine -- but now I get to meet Robinson in a different setting, introducing him when he serves as keynote speaker for tonight's annual dinner by the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.
Smoothly professional and highly respected, he was the kind of features journalist I wanted to grow up to become, an assessment only confirmed many yeas later when he began writing a widely-read op-ed column, eventually winning his own Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for his writing on Barack Obama's election as America's first black president.
He's also a reasoned, incisive voice as a commentator on MSNBC, slinging opinions with Rachel Maddow, Joe Scarborough and the Rev. Al Sharpton. And he's written three books, including Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America, a look at how civil rights advances have split black Americans into three categories, including a poverty-stricken underclass who may find it harder to succeed than ever.
Robinson headlines an evening which includes a tribute to another Pulitzer winner, longtime Tampa Bay Times reporter Lucy Morgan, who will receive the group's Thomas Paine Award. There will also be tributes to former Governor Kenneth “Buddy” McKay and former State Senator Dennis Jones.
Held with the theme, “A Night With The Tigers” the dinner gets underway at the St. Petersburg Marriott, including a 5 p.m. VIP reception and 6:30 p.m. dinner and program. The whole event is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Tucker Hall public relations company. Click here for more info.