- Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site
International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame
Eugene C. Patterson
Eugene C. Patterson
1923 - present

As the Pulitzer Prize-winning editor of the Atlanta Constitution from 1960 to 1968, Eugene Patterson spoke directly to his kin in the white South in support of the civil rights aims of his Nobel Prize-winning friend and contemporary, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Patterson’s 1963 column, A Flower for the Graves, became a journalistic classic eulogizing the four black children killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and laying their deaths on the consciences of white southerners of that time for having tolerated a politics of racial malevolence.

Patterson, born in 1923, was a native of Adel, Georgia and a combat-decorated tank commander in World War II. From Atlanta he went on to serve as managing editor of The Washington Post and then as chairman and chief executive officer of the St.Petersburg Times, Florida’s largest newspaper. He served from 1964 to 1967 as vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and in 1977-78 as president of the American Society of Newspaper editors. Books he wrote included The Changing South of Gene Patterson, published in 2002 by the University Press of Florida.