Clarence Page

Clarence Page

I began writing my column for the Chicago Tribune in July 1984, as a local column. In the summer of 1987, it went into syndication as a national column. It is now syndicated in about 150 papers. In 1989, the column won that year's Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. I originally joined the Tribune in 1969, fresh off the campus as a reporter. Six months later I was drafted, part of the last batch of former I-Y's (Student deferment) to get snatched before the lottery went into effect.

I served proudly, guarding this country's western flank from the press office at the 212th Artillery Group, Fort Lewis, Washington.

Back at the Tribune in the fall of 1971, I re-launched my urban journalism career in a variety of beats, including police, rewrite, religion and neighborhood news, with freelance assignments as a rock music critic for Tempo at night.

In my own meandering way, I became a foreign correspondent in Africa in 1976, an assistant city editor upon my return and an investigative Task Force reporter in 1979.

In 1980, I became restless. The glitter of TV beckoned. I joined WBBM-TV, a CBS-owned station, in August 1980 as director of the Community Affairs Department. At various times, I was a documentary producer, reporter and planning editor.

The highlight of those years was to be assigned to the protests in 1982 that evolved into the Harold Washington mayoral campaign. As that history-making story rose in prominence, locally and nationally, so did I. Soon the world was beginning to call me a "political expert." I tried to say nothing that would disabuse them of that notion.

I returned like the prodigal son to dear Mother Tribune in 1984, taking on the role of columnist and member of the editorial board.

As a freelance writer, I have been published in Chicago magazine, the Chicago Reader, Washington Monthly, New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, New York Newsday and Emerge.

My first book, "Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity," was published in 1996 and soared to the middle of the best-seller list in Chicago. Today, like the Energizer bunny, I just keep going and going and going ...

My column, which appears Sundays and Wednesdays on the Chicago Tribune's op-ed page, is syndicated nationally by Tribune Media Services.

In my spare time (As if I had any left!), I am an occasional panelist on "The McLaughlin Group," a regular contributor of essays to "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" and a host of several documentaries on the Public Broadcasting System.

I am also a regular panelist on Black Entertainment Television's weekly "Lead Story" program and an occasional commentator on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition Sunday."

I started out as a baby. I came into the world on June 2, 1947, in Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Since then, my life has been one adventure after another. I graduated in 1965 from Middletown High School in Ohio, where I was feature editor in my senior year at the school's biweekly newspaper.

I also won my first award that year from the Southeast Ohio High School Newspaper Association for the year's best feature article. At 17, in the summer of 1965, I earned my first pay as a journalist by selling freelance photos and stories to the Middletown Journal and Cincinnati Enquirer.

At Ohio University, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism in 1969. Since then, I've received honorary doctorates from Columbia College in Chicago, Lake Forest (Ill.) College, Chicago Theological Seminary and others, including dear Alma Mater, Ohio U.

In 1972, I participated in a Chicago Tribune Task Force series on vote fraud, which won the Pulitzer, followed by the Edward Scott Beck Award for overseas reporting on the changing politics of Southern Africa in 1976. An investigative series I wrote, "The Black Tax," was awarded the 1980 Illinois UPI award for Community Service.

My wife Lisa and I have been married since May 1987. Our son, Grady Jonathan, was born June 3, 1989, the day after my birthday. How about THAT for a birthday present?

And it happened at about the same time that I won the Pulitzer. I always dreamed of winning a Pulitzer in my own right, but never imagined the moment would feel anticlimactic. Thanks to my first-and-only son's arrival, it was.