Two White Authors Win Awards for Books on Black History

The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the Neiman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University have announced the three winners of the 2007 J. Anthony Lukas Prizes. The awards, which recognize excellence in nonfiction writing, are named in honor of J. Anthony Lukas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times who died in 1997.

All three winners of this year’s Lukas Prizes are white. But two of the works honored deal with black history. James T. Campbell, an associate professor of American history and Africana studies at Brown University, received the History Prize for his book Middle Passages: African-American Journeys to Africa, 1787-2005. This award comes with a $10,000 cash prize.

Investigative journalist Robert Whitaker was given the Work in Progress Award and a $30,000 cash prize to complete his book, Twelve Condemned to Die: Scipio Africanus Jones and the Struggle for Justice That Remade a Nation, which is scheduled for release by Crown Books.

Jones was a black attorney who in 1919 fought the convictions of 12 black sharecroppers charged with murder after a race riot in Elaine, Arkansas. The 12 were eventually awarded new trials by the U.S. Supreme Court.