African-American Literature in American Culture

What African American won two Pulitzer Prizes?

In 1993 historian and educator David Levering Lewis (1936–) won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography, W.E.B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race: 1868-1919. In 2001 he published the second volume of the Du Bois biography, W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963, and again won a Pulitzer Prize, becoming the first biographer to win twice for back-to-back books on the same subject. Lewis was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and relocated with his parents to Wilberforce, Ohio. He entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, in the fall of 1952, as a member of the university’s Early Entrants Program for bright students who had not finished high school; he graduated in 1956 with Phi Beta Kappa honors and a bachelor’s degree in history. He received his master’s degree in history from Columbia University in 1958 and enrolled in England’s London School of Economics. There Lewis focused on Modern European and French history and received his doctorate in 1962. All the while he maintained an interest in U.S. history and continued to develop intellectually in that area. Lewis held a number of teaching posts at such institutions as the University of Ghana in Africa, Howard University, the University of Notre Dame, Morgan State University, the University of the District of Columbia, and finally Rutgers University, where he holds the Martin Luther King Jr. Chair. His biography of Martin Luther King Jr. titled King: A Biography, published in 1978, was well received by the academic community. His book When Harlem Was In Vogue, published in 1981, was likewise well received and helped to enhance the resources on that cultural period in history. Lewis’ crowning achievement came with the publication of his monumental biographies of W.E.B. Du Bois that chronicle the life of one of the twentieth century’s most brilliant and fertile minds.


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