Updated: Jan 21, 2022
The selection committee for the 25th annual Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year is delighted to announce that Monroeville native Cynthia Tucker has been chosen as recipient for 2022.
Cynthia Tucker is a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist. Her weekly column, which appears in newspapers around the country, focuses on political and cultural issues, including income inequality, social justice and reform of the public education system.
Tucker has spent most of her career in newspapers, working as a reporter and editor. For seventeen years, she served as editorial page editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, overseeing the newspaper’s editorial policies on everything from local elections to foreign affairs. She also worked as a Washington-based political columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
After leaving the newspaper, Tucker spent three years as a visiting professor at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she was also a Charlayne Hunter-Gault writer-in-residence. She is currently the journalist-in-residence at the University of South Alabama, where she teaches in the English and Political Science departments. Cynthia’s first published book, The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance (NewSouth Books, 2/15/2022), co-authored with Frye Gaillard, is a compelling series of linked essays considering the role of the South in shaping America’s current political and cultural landscape. Tucker and Gaillard will be among the select group of authors presenting their books at the 2022 Monroeville Literary Festival with readings and discussions in the courtroom made famous by the film version of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Over the course of her career, Tucker has received numerous awards and honors. Her column was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2004 and 2006 before winning the prestigious honor in 2007. In 2006, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists. In 2011, she was inducted into the NABJ’s Hall of Fame. She has also won Colby College’s Elijah Parish Lovejoy Journalism Award; the University of Alabama’s Clarence Cason Award; the David Nyhan Prize for Political Journalism presented by the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; and the Alabama Humanities Award, bestowed by the Alabama Humanities Foundation. Tucker was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2017.
A graduate of Auburn University, Tucker was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in the 1988-89 academic year. She’s a native of Monroeville, Alabama, and lives in Mobile with her 13-year-old daughter, Carly.
Previous Harper Lee Award winners are: Angela Johnson, 2021; Patti Callahan Henry, 2020; Daniel Wallace, 2019; Honoree Jeffers, 2018; Brad Watson, 2017; E.O. Wilson, 2016; Hank Lazer, 2015; Mark Childress, 2014; Gay Talese, 2013; Fannie Flagg, 2012; Winston Groom, 2011; Carolyn Haines, 2010; Rick Bragg, 2009; Rebecca Gilman, 2008; William Cobb, 2007; Wayne Greenhaw, 2006; Andrew Hudgins, 2005; Sonia Sanchez, 2004; Rodney Jones, 2003; Mary Ward Brown, 2002; Sena Jeter Naslund, 2001; Helen Norris, 2000; Madison Jones, 1999; Albert Murray, 1998.
The prestigious award carries a $5,000 stipend and an original Frank Fleming bronze rendering of the Old Monroe County Courthouse Clock Tower and is made possible through a generous grant from George F. Landegger, CEO of Parsons and Whittemore.
The Harper Lee Award will be presented to Cynthia Tucker during the 25th annual Monroeville Literary Festival, to be held on March 4th and 5th, 2022 at the Monroe County Museum in Monroeville, Alabama.