Colson Whitehead wins second Pulitzer, Ida B. Wells honored

Colson Whitehead won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for his novel “The Nickel Boys” on Monday, becoming only one of a handful of writers to win two Fiction Awards. Whitehead first won the prize in 2017 for his novel “The Underground Railroad.” 

Another notable Pulitzer Prize winner was Nikole Hannah-Jones, who won the Commentary prize for The New York Times’ “1619” series that reframed American history by focusing on the legacy of slavery and the contributions of black Americans.

Turn-of-the-century investigative journalist and civil rights icon Ida B. Wells received a special citation for “her outstanding and courageous reporting on the horrific and vicious violence against African Americans during the era of lynching,” the Pulitzer Committee said. The citation comes with a $50,000 grant to support Wells’ mission, with honorees to be announced later. 

For the first time, the Pulitzer Committee awarded a prize in Audio Reporting, which went to “This American Life,” Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, a freelancer at Vice News. The judges called the report “revelatory, intimate journalism.”

Colson Whitehead on “The Nickel Boys”

Jeffrey Gerritt, from the Texas local newspaper the Palestine Herald Press, picked up the award for Editorial Writing. 

Other regional papers also won awards, including Kentucky’s Louisville Courier-Journal, which won for breaking news coverage for former Governor Matt Bevin’s controversial pardons, The Baltimore Sun, which won for local reporting for their investigation of former Mayor Catherine Pugh’s fraudulent “Healthy Holly” book scheme, and the Seattle Times, which won one of two National Reporting prize winners for investigating Boeing’s 737 MAX’s design flaws.

Including Hannah-Jones’ win, The New York Times took home three awards. The other two awards were for investigative reporting for a look into predatory lending in the taxi medallion industry and for international reporting for a series on Russia’s influence operations throughout the world. 

“The 1619 Project”: Nikole Hannah-Jones on confronting the truth about slavery

The prizes were initially scheduled to be announced on April 20, but were postponed to May 4 because some of the board members were busy covering the coronavirus pandemic

Read the full list of winners below:


  • Breaking News Reporting: Staff of The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Ky.
  • Investigative Reporting: Brian M. Rosenthal of The New York Times
  • Explanatory Reporting: Staff of The Washington Post
  • Local Reporting: Staff of The Baltimore Sun
  • National Reporting: T. Christian Miller, Megan Rose and Robert Faturechi of ProPublica
  • Dominic Gates, Steve Miletich, Mike Baker and Lewis Kamb of The Seattle Times
  • International Reporting: Staff of The New York Times
  • Feature Writing: Ben Taub of The New Yorker
  • Commentary: Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times
  • Criticism: Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times
  • Editorial Writing: Jeffery Gerritt of the Palestine Herald Press in Texas
  • Editorial Cartooning: Barry Blitt, contributor, The New Yorker
  • Breaking News Photography: Photography Staff of Reuters
  • Feature Photography: Channi Anand, Mukhtar Khan and Dar Yasin of The Associated Press
  • Audio Reporting: Staff of This American Life with Molly O’Toole of the Los Angeles Times and Emily Green, freelancer, Vice News
  • Public Service: Anchorage Daily News with contributions from ProPublica


  • Drama: A Strange Loop, by Michael R. Jackson
  • History:  Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America, by W. Caleb McDaniel (Oxford University Press)
  • Biography: Sontag: Her Life and Work, by Benjamin Moser (Ecco)
  • Poetry: The Tradition, by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon Press)
  • General Nonfiction: The Undying: Pain, Vulnerability, Mortality, Medicine, Art, Time, Dreams, Data, Exhaustion, Cancer, and Care, by Anne Boyer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
  • The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, by Greg Grandin (Metropolitan Books)
  • Music: The Central Park Five, by Anthony Davis
  • Fiction: The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

Special Citation

  • Ida B. Wells
Categories: National, US & World News

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