March 24, 2006

SIUC to host columnist Clarence Page

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Clarence Page will share his perspectives during an appearance at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next month.

Page is appearing at the inaugural Bill and Molly Norwood Fellowship program at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 5, in the SIUC Student Center Ballroom D. Admission is free.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the lecture series.

“We are delighted to feature this gifted writer, keen analyst and stimulating commentator,” institute Director Mike Lawrence said. “He is widely respected by fellow journalists – those who walk the corridors of power and those trying to make a positive difference on the streets of America. All are better informed and more enlightened because of his good work.”

Based in Washington, D.C., Page, whose journalism career spans four decades, won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Tribune Media Services syndicates his column.

Page’s commentaries are not limited, however, to the print media. He is a regular contributor on numerous national programs, including ABC’s “This Week,” and BET’s weekly “Lead Story,” news program, in addition to work with National Public Radio.

Page served as a reporter and assistant city editor at the Chicago Tribune from 1969 to 1980, before joining Chicago’s WBBM-TV as director of the station’s community affairs department. He worked as a reporter and planning editor at the station.

Page’s awards are numerous, including his work on a 1972 Chicago Tribune series focusing on vote fraud that won a Pulitzer Prize. A 1992 inductee into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, Page also earned a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists in 2004. His 1980 investigative series, “The Black Tax,” earned Page an Illinois United Press International Award for community service.

A native of Dayton, Ohio, Page began his journalism career at 17 as a freelance writer and photographer for the Middletown Journal and Cincinnati Enquirer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ohio University in 1969. A freelance writer, Page’s book, “Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity,” was published in 1996.

The emphasis of the Norwood fellowship lecture series is on bringing in prominent speakers in the area of public policy and diversity in society. An anonymous friend initially created the $20,000 endowment – honoring the Norwoods. The endowment has doubled since its inception.

Bill Norwood earned a bachelor’s degree from SIUC in 1959, was the University’s first African-American quarterback and is a member of the Saluki Hall of Fame. He served in the U.S. Air Force until 1965 and then began a 31-year career with United Airlines, becoming the company’s first African-American pilot and the first to achieve the rank of captain. He is a former member of the SIU Board of Trustees. Norwood and his family have established scholarships for SIUC students. Molly Norwood is a 1961 SIUC graduate.

“We are delighted that someone of Clarence Page’s stature is inaugurating a lecture series that honors two wonderful, outstanding people who – individually and as a couple – have blazed trails and contributed monumentally to this university, this community and this state,” Lawrence said.

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.