William Raspberry (October 12, 1935 – July 17, 2012) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated American public affairs columnist. He was also the Knight Professor of the Practice of Communications and Journalism at the Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University. An African American, he frequently wrote on racial issues. In 1999, Raspberry received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award as well as an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Colby College.
After earning a B.S. in history at the University of Indianapolis in 1958, he continued to work at the local weekly Indianapolis Recorder where he’d begun in 1956, rising to associate managing editor. He was drafted and served as a U.S. Army public information officer 1960-1962. The Washington Post hired him as a teletypist in 1962. Raspberry quickly rose in the ranks of the paper, becoming a columnist in 1966. Raspberry was first nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1982, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1994. Raspberry supported gay rights, writing at least one column condemning gay-bashing. He argued against certain torts and complaints from the disabled. Ragged Edge, a disabled-rights publication, published complaints from letters to the editor that the Post did not print. He retired in December 2005. He provided the Washington Post a guest column on November 11, 2008, commenting on the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States. As of 2008, he was president of “Baby Steps”, a parent training and empowerment program based in Okolona, Mississippi. Raspberry is an alumnus of Okolona College. He is the author of Looking Backward at Us, a collection of his columns from the 1980s. Raspberry died of prostate cancer on July 17, 2012. He was 76.
- October, 12, 1935
- Okolona, Mississippi
- July, 17, 2012
- Washington, D.C.