Harkey, Ira B., Jr. 1918-2006 (Ira Brown Harkey, Jr.)

views updated

Harkey, Ira B., Jr. 1918-2006 (Ira Brown Harkey, Jr.)


See index for CA sketch: Born January 15, 1918, in New Orleans, LA; died of complications from Parkinson's disease, October 8, 2006, in Kerrville, TX. Journalist, educator, and author. Harkey was a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor whose stand for integration made him a target of white racists in the South. After earning a B.A. from Tulane University in 1941, he finished a master's degree at Ohio State University and was taking more graduate classes when World War II began. Harkey served in the U.S. Navy for the duration. After the war, he was a reporter at the New Orleans Times-Picayune, where he had been employed before the war, too. From 1949 until 1963, Harkey was president, editor, and publisher of the Pascagoula, Mississippi, Chronicle. In that same town, he was also president of Advertiser Printing Inc. His first brush with danger due to his public opinions came in 1954, when he came out in support of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Racists burned a cross in his yard as a warning. Harkey, however, stuck to his principles, and in 1962 he wrote a series of editorials supporting racial integration in schools. This effort won him a 1963 Pulitzer Prize. It also resulted in threats against his life and a boycott against his newspaper. Guns were fired at his office and home, and Harkey finally decided it was enough. He left journalism to take a teaching post at Ohio State University. Harkey would go on to teach at the University of Alaska, the University of Montana, and also Columbia University. Much of his later career was concerned with business, however. He was vice president and director of the Oklahoma Coca-Cola Bottling Company from 1965 to 1980, and president of the Indian Creek Company from 1981 to 1993. Harkey wrote about his personal fight against racism in his autobiography, The Smell of Burning Crosses (1967); in addition, he was the author of Pioneer Bush Pilot: The Story of Noel Wien (1974), and coauthor of Alton Ochsner, Surgeon of the South (1990).



Chicago Tribune, October 11, 2006, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2006, p. B11.

New York Times, October 11, 2006, p. C15.

Times (London, England), October 21, 2006, p. 79.

About this article

Harkey, Ira B., Jr. 1918-2006 (Ira Brown Harkey, Jr.)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article