William Raspberry

Major Works

  • Looking Backward at Us (1991) (anthology of his columns)Looking Backward at Us

William Raspberry: A Biography

by Watress Harris (SHS)

William Raspberry was well-known for his point-of-view about education, criminal justice, family, and racial matters in America. William Raspberry was born in Okolona, Mississippi, on October 12, 1935. He was the son of two teachers. When he graduated from the University of Indianapolis in 1958 with a B.S. in History, he became associate managing editor for the Washington Post in Washington DC.

Raspberry became a journalist who had strong opinions about the problems in America society. Raspberry said that he can thank his parents that he was able to have his own point-of-view about life. As the mouth of South, he had the words for America’s problems.

William Raspberry won many awards. He was awarded honorary degrees from Georgetown University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Indianapolis, in 1982. He was named Journalist of the Year by Capital Press Club in 1965, and in 1994 he won a Pulitzer Prize for his weekly columnist for The Washington Post. He was one of the most widely-read black journalists of his generation. His opinion column for the Post ran for nearly 40 years, and more than 200 newspapers carried his column in syndication before he retired in 2005. He also taught journalism for more than 10 years at Duke University as the Knight Professor of the Practice of Journalism. In 1991, a book of his columns was published under the name Looking Back at Us. During his career Raspberry was a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Pulitzer Prize board, Capital Press Club, and Kappa Alpha Psi.

Raspberry died in 2012 of prostate cancer at his home in Washington D. C. at the age of 76, according to his wife, Sondra Raspberry.

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A Review of Looking Back at Us

by Watress Harris (SHS)

Watress Harris, SHS Researcher

Watress Harris, SHS Researcher

The book Looking Backward at Us by William Raspberry is filled with his opinions about education, family and racial matters. Raspberry feels that education is a goal everyone needs to succeed in. One of the topics under education that caught my attention was “Black Kids Need Standard English.”  In it Raspberry explains the importance of English. Raspberry thinks the best thing that a teacher can  do for black students is to teach them as early as possible to speak English well. He feels  that blacks think that speaking correct English is talking “white” and often times black peers pick on each other for using correct English. Raspberry tries to encourage blacks and other Americans  to use correct English because without proper use of English, some people will consider the person ignorant.

Raspberry also has a strong point of view about family problems in America. He feels parents should have control over their child and not let a child have control over the parent.  As a parent Raspberry feels it is his  duty (and every parent’s duty) to  teach the child about the obstacles  he or she may face in life. He thinks some of the problems we face in America can be prevented if we start at our own front door. He also feels that parents must represent themselves as  parents because in many cases a child often imitates the parent’s action.

Raspberry also focuses  on racial matters in America. One of the topics under racial matters that took the breath right out of my body was “Embarrassing questions.” Raspberry explains how the media focuses on black Americans dealing and using drugs more than any other race. One day his friend’s son asked, “Do white people use and deal drugs?” Of course, this was a shocking question for Raspberry and his friend. Raspberry explained to his friend’s  son that black people are more open then white people. The moral of this topic is that many people think blacks are the only drug dealer and users in America. This is because the media and news report the drug use of blacks more than any other race in America.

The book is written in first person point of view. The narrator is Raspberry himself. Raspberry sets a mood that the problems America faces can be solved if we start with ourselves. The theme of the book is that despite all the problems in America,  if  a person  has an education and  home training and doesn’t see things in black and white but as right and wrong, he will succeed in America.

In conclusion, I enjoyed the book very much because it told me what is going on in America; it also told me how to be successful in America. However,  I think the book needs to break down the big words Raspberry uses was so students like me can understand it better.

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