Davis Lecture: "Covering Civil Rights in Atlanta in the 60s"

The Neil O. and Henrietta Davis Lecture Series lecturer this year will be William W. “Billy” Winn, former editorial page editor of the Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer.

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24 in the Auburn University Science Auditorium: It is free and open to the public.

Winn, who was mentored by legendary Atlanta Journal-Constitution editor Ralph McGill, will talk about “Covering Civil Rights in Atlanta in the Sixties,” not only about the events he reported – such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination – but the slow awakening of Southern white journalists to the bigotry in their own ranks. He is working on a book, tentatively titled “Dispatches from Another War,” about his experiences.

The Davis Lecture Series was founded by Neil Davis, founder of the Lee County Bulletin, in 1996 to bring exemplars of great journalism to Auburn University students and the public. The Bulletin was among the most highly respected and nationally known Southern newspapers from the 1940s to the 1980s, and past lecturers have included Gene Roberts and Howell Raines of the New York Times, Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Hodding Carter III and Ray Jenkins of the Baltimore Sun.

Winn, who has run several magazines, edited numerous anthologies, published in prestigious journals and won numerous national, regional and state writing and reporting awards, came back to his hometown of Columbus in 1986, although McGill had urged him to work in a more racially enlightened area.

“I moved back to Columbus because of something Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said not long before he was killed,” Winn said. “Dr. King had a tremendous influence on my life ... He would sometimes say to all of us reporters that we should go back and work for the movement among our own people because they were the ones that really needed it.”

Winn’s study and writing on race and culture are not limited to the black civil rights movement. He is also a widely recognized authority on Native American history and culture, and his fifth book, “Triumph of the Eccuna-Nuxulgee: A Moral Fable of the Old Southwest,” will be published by Mercer Press in the fall.

Contact: Associate Professor Judy Sheppard
Associate Director for Journalism
School of Communication and Journalism

Last Updated: April 18, 2014