April 20, 1998
David Halberstam won a Pulitzer Prize in 1964 for his early and riveting reports from Vietnam. He has been called this generation’s equivalent of historian Theodore White, and has written books on subjects as varied as firefighters killed at the World Trade Towers and the high pressure life of professional basketball players. His titles include The Best and the Brightest, The Powers That Be, The Reckoning, The Fifties, and The Breaks of the Game. At Kentucky Author Forum, he discussed The Children (Random House), a chronicle of the early days of the civil rights movement. At the time of his death, in 2007, he was on his way to interview Y. A. Tittle, the former New York Giants quarterback, for a book about the 1958 championship game between the Giants and the Baltimore Colts, considered by many to be the greatest football game ever played. The Children focuses on the personal stories of a core group of young students who risked their lives over a five-year period to dramatically address segregation in America. Halberstam comes “full circle” with this book; he was a cub reporter for The Tennessean in 1960 when he covered their first non-violent attempts to break the color barrier by sitting at segregated lunch counters in downtown Nashville. A few of those students rose to levels of significant influence, eventually advising Dr. Martin Luther King, as the civil rights movement became national in scope. David Halberstam was interviewed at Kentucky Author Forum by Roger Wilkins, the Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University. He also served as Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. from 1966-69, during critical developments in the civil rights movement. Dr. Wilkins retired from teaching in 2007.