January 10, 2012 — Wall Street Journal correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Douglas A. Blackmon will become the new chair of the Forum Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center, Gerald L. Baliles, the center's director and CEO, announced Monday.
Blackmon is the Wall Street Journal's senior national correspondent and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II." His book, a searing examination of how the enslavement of African-Americans persisted deep into the 20th century, profoundly sculpting current American life, was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction.
After serving at the Wall Street Journal for more than 16 years, Blackmon will join the faculty of the Miller Center full time in February, as well as continuing to pursue journalism projects and scholarship. He will become a contributing editor of the Washington Post in March, focusing on national coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign.
Baliles will introduce Blackmon at a special Martin Luther King Day forum at the Miller Center on Jan. 16 at 11 a.m. Blackmon will speak about his book as well as discuss his new role with the center. (For a larger list of U.Va.'s Martin Luther King remembrance events, click here.)
"We are truly delighted Doug will be joining the Miller Center. Since the center's founding in 1975, the Forum Program has served as a cornerstone of our work and public outreach," said Baliles, the former governor of Virginia. "Today, the Forum reaches a national audience on PBS, and with Doug, we will have one of the nation's best and most respected journalists leading the conversation."
Blackmon said, "The Miller Center has a tremendous opportunity through the Forum to build on its already distinguished reputation and well-established audience to create an even broader array of programming that will illuminate crucial national policy issues and highlight some of the scholarly work and resources of the center and the University. The Miller Center seems uniquely positioned to fill such a role."
As longtime chief of The Wall Street Journal's Atlanta bureau and as senior national correspondent since 2010, Blackmon has directed coverage of or written about many of the most important stories of the current era, including the election of President Obama, the rise of the Tea Party movement and the Journal's 2011 Pulitzer-finalist coverage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Covering the 11 states of the southeastern U.S. for most of the past decade, he and teams of reporters he directed also were responsible for the Journal's acclaimed coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the failed federal response after the disaster, immigration, poverty, politics and daily reporting on more than 2,500 corporations based in the region.
This fall, Miller Center faculty members Cristina Lopez-Gottardi Chao, Brian Balogh, Barbara Perry and Marc Selverstone have shared responsibilities for hosting the center's Forum programming, bringing speakers such as Jim Lehrer and Bob Woodward to Charlottesville, with the coordination of the center's director of communications and marketing, Kristy Schantz, a former CNN executive producer. U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan gave the opening Forum of the season in September on higher education as an engine of economic recovery and growth.
The Miller Center's Forum Program is shown weekly on more than 100 PBS stations across the country, from New York City to Anchorage and nearly every major metropolitan area in between.
Miller Center Director Emeritus Kenneth W. Thompson hosted the Forum for more than two decades, and George Gilliam headed the Forum Program from 2004 until the close of the 2010-11 academic year.
Blackmon, as a reporter at the Journal and previously the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, has written extensively over the past 25 years about the American quandary of race, exploring the integration of schools during his childhood in a Mississippi Delta farm town, lost episodes of the Civil Rights Movement, and, repeatedly, the dilemma of how a contemporary society should grapple with a troubled past. Many of his stories in the Wall Street Journal explored the interplay of wealth, corporate conduct, the American judicial system and racial segregation.
International assignments have included the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the reunification of East and West Germany, the Civil War in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, post-apartheid South Africa and the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague.
Political assignments have included Obama's 2008 inauguration; presidential campaigns of 1988, 2002, 2008 and 2012; the post presidency of Jimmy Carter; and Bill Clinton while governor of Arkansas in the 1980s.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, "Slavery by Another Name" was a New York Times bestseller in both hardback and soft-cover editions, and was awarded a 2009 American Book Award, the 2009 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters non-fiction book prize, a 2008 Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Award, an NAACP Freedom Fund Outstanding Achievement Award, and many other citations. He has been honored by the state legislature of Georgia for distinguished scholarship and service to history. In 2010, he received the Grassroots Justice Award from the Georgia Justice Project.
Blackmon is co-executive producer of a documentary film based on "Slavery by Another Name," which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this month and will air on PBS on Feb. 13. Directed by filmmaker Sam Pollard, the film was made with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kellogg Foundation, and corporate sponsors.
Blackmon joined the Journal in October 1995 as a reporter in Atlanta. Prior to joining the Journal, Blackmon was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he covered race and politics in Atlanta. Previously, he was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat in 1986-1987 and co-owner and managing editor of the Daily Record from 1987 to 1989, both in Little Rock, Ark.
Raised in Leland, Miss., Blackmon penned his first newspaper story for the weekly Leland Progress at the age of 12. He received his degree in English from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark.