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Noted Journalist William Raspbery Dead at 76

Posted: Jul 18, 2012

Pulitzer Prize-winner William Raspberry, who served 40 years as a columnist for The Washington Post died Tuesday at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 76. His wife, Sondra Raspberry, said he had prostate cancer.

Noted for his fierce independent views on education, poverty, crime and race, Raspberry was one of the first black journalists -- the other was Carl Rowan-- to gain a wide following in the mainstream press.

Raspberry, who wrote a provocative opinion column for The Post that was also carried as a syndicated item in more than 200 newspapers across the country, retired in 2005.

As a depiction of his upbringing in the segregated South, Raspberry's columns would often focus on integration while opposing busing students in order to achieve racial balance.

"From the day Bill Raspberry wrote his first Post column, his advice was as wise and his voice as clear as anyone's in Washington," Donald Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Co., said in an interview. "To the city, Bill's columns brought 40 years of smart, independent judgment."

Raspberry won the Pulitzer in 1994, making him the second black columnist to achieve the honor. The Mississippi native began his career at The Post in 1962 as a teletype operator and within months began working as a reporter.

Raspberry covered the riots in 1965 in the Watts section of Los Angeles, and a year later began writing a column on local matters.

For more 10 years Raspberry, the son of two preachers, taught journalism at Duke University. Born in 1935 in the northeastern Mississippi town of Okolona, he graduated from Indiana Central College, now the University of Indianapolis.

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