Voting-Rights Columns Help Tucker Win Pulitzer After Two Near Misses

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By: Dave Astor

Cynthia Tucker was voted a Pulitzer Prize for commentary today, partly because she wrote about voting rights last year.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Universal Press Syndicate columnist told E&P that she included pieces about various topics in her Pulitzer portfolio. But what she wrote about most in 2006 were GOP efforts in Georgia and elsewhere to suppress the vote of people (often poor African-Americans) through such means as a push for paid IDs. People have likened that to the Jim Crow-era poll tax.

Tucker, who’s also the Journal-Constitution’s editorial page editor, was a Pulitzer finalist in 2006 and 2004. Though she obviously wanted to win those years, she understood why it didn’t happen.

“Leonard Pitts, who won in 2004, is an excellent columnist,” said Tucker. “I run him in the Journal-Constitution. And Nicholas Kristof, who won last year, has single-handedly kept the issue of Darfur before America. I didn’t feel I was cheated in either of those years. But I’m utterly delighted that my time has finally come.”

When it comes to prize consideration, Tucker competes mostly against columnists who aren’t also full-time editors. Tucker said she’s so used to wearing two job hats that she “can’t imagine what it would be like” to have the luxury of doing only a column. “But I’m committed to squeezing out the [column] reporting time on the issues that are important,” Tucker said.

Tucker began writing a column for The Atlanta Journal in 1984, and became editorial page editor of The Atlanta Constitution eight years later. Now she holds both positions at the combined AJC.

Mike Luckovich, who received the editorial cartooning Pulitzer in 2006, has worked with Tucker for about 15 years.

“I’m thrilled Cynthia won,” the Journal-Constitution/Creators Syndicate cartoonist told E&P today. “She’s so deserving. She’s fearless in her column and lets me take strong stands.”

Luckovich noted that, in Atlanta, Tucker’s writing makes her “feared, hated, and loved depending on who you talk to.” But he said people who know Tucker find her to be not only “courageous, but also a really nice person with a fabulous sense of humor.”

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