King, Colbert I. 1939-

views updated

KING, Colbert I. 1939-


Born September 20, 1939, in Washington, DC; son of Isaiah and Amelia (Colbert) King; married Gwendolyn Stewart, July 3, 1961; children: Robert, Stephen, Alison. Education: Howard University, B.A., 1961; graduate studies.


Home—Washington, DC. Office—Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071. E-mail—[email protected]


U.S. government, State Department foreign-service attaché, 1964-70, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, special assistant to undersecretary, 1970-71, director of VISTA, 1971-72, U.S. Senate District of Columbia Committee minority staff director, 1972-76; Department of the Treasury, deputy assistant secretary of legislative affairs, 1977-79. U.S. executive director of World Bank, 1979-81. Potomac Electric Power Co., director of government relations, 1975-77; Riggs National Bank, Washington, DC, executive vice president and member, board of directors, 1981-90; Washington Post, columnist, 1990—, deputy editor of editorial page, 2000—. Legislative director for U.S. Senator Charles Mathias (MD), beginning 1974. Military service: U.S. Army Adjutant General's Corps, commissioned officer, 1961-63.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People award, 1969; Department of Health, Education, and Welfare fellowship, 1970-71; U.S. Secretary of Treasury Distinguished Service Award, 1980; Howard University Distinguished Graduate Award in Business, 1987; ASNE Award finalist for Best Newspaper Writing, 1999; Pulitzer Prize for commentary, 2003.


Contributor of columns and editorials for Washington Post.


Colbert I. King was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for his weekend commentary column in the Washington Post. While journalism has always been an interest of King's, it was not always his primary career. After graduating from Howard University in 1961, King served in the U.S. Army for two years, then considered a journalism career. Unfortunately, a beginning newspaperman's salary was not sufficient for King and his family, so he opted for a career in banking and government service. From deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. treasury, King was appointed in 1979 to a position as executive director of the World Bank by President Jimmy Carter. After Carter's term in office ended, King once again was drawn toward journalism, and in 1990 gave up his banking career to become a columnist for the Washington Post.

Since joining the Washington Post, King has represented his fellow Washingtonians in their efforts to alleviate the poverty in the nation's capital city and in the process point out abuses of power on the part of the wealthy and privileged. While King does not view himself as the voice of all African Americans in Washington, D.C., he stated in an interview with Harry Jaffe in the Washingtonian, "I reflect the view of certain Washingtonians of a certain age. Before I had to take on race, I had to take on class." Raised in Washington, D.C., himself, King is at home navigating the city's complex maze of politics and social hierarchy, and is quick to point out its effect on life on the city's streets and in its schools. In addition to his weekly column, King often works as a commentator on WTOP news-radio in Washington.

In an interview with Sasha Abramsky for Editor & Publisher, King commented on winning the coveted Pulitzer: "I still can't get used to the idea. It's overwhelming. This job is something I would pay to do. I love writing editorials; I enjoy the editorial-board meetings. The column has always been a sideline. I still feel I'm the new kid on the block as far as journalism goes." He continues to stay passionate about his journalistic crusade, telling Abramsky: "I don't like to see the strong taking advantage of the weak. People deserve justice in their lives."



Editor & Publisher, April 14, 2003, Sasha Abramsky, interview with King, p. 21.

Washingtonian, September, 2001, Harry Jaffe, "King Writes Editorials with the Anger of a Homeboy," p. 19.


Pulitzer Prize Web site, (October 2, 2003), "Colbert I. King."

Washington Post Web site, (October 2, 2003).*