Carl Rowan

Early Life
Born in Tennessee in 1925, Carl Rowan spent much of his childhood dealing with the “Jim Crow” laws in the South, but he still graduated as the valedictorian/class president of Bernard High School in 1942.

Starting a Career
Rowan was determined to graduate from college, which he paid for by working for a tuberculosis hospital. Eventually he received a master’s in journalism from Minnesota, using money earned by writing for the Minneapolis Spokesman and the St. Paul Recorder.

Accomplishments and Influence
In 1950, he became a general assignment reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune and became the first African American to win the “Outstanding Young Man” award. He wrote three well-received books, the first of which was entitled South of Freedom. He won the “Sigma Delta Chi” award three times, the only journalist to do so. He was appointed deputy assistant secretary of state for public affairs in 1961. Later in his career, Rowan won an Emmy for “Drug Abuse: America’s 64 Billion Dollar Curse,” a documentary.

While Rowan reached about 100 different papers in his day, his life was not without adversity. He was rejected from the prestigious Cosmos Club for racial reasons, and his application was never revisited after a non-discriminatory law was passed. At 62, he shot and wounded a trespassing teenager. The gun wasn't legally his, and ironically, he was a strict gun control supporter. The hypocrisy charges were dropped, and Rowan maintained that he was still in favor of more gun control.


Aarrayn P said...

I was intrigued by the fact that Carl Rowan accomplished so much despite the fact that he dealt with a lot of racial tension. After reading more about him, I found out that Mr. Rowan had a hand in almost everything. For example, he was also one of the first African American officers in the United States Navy, a United States ambassador in Finland, and the director of the U.S. Information Agency. Also, I learned that Rowan spent time writing columns in India, Pakistan, and Southeast Asia in 1954. Recollection of the time he spent there was reflected in his book, The Pitiful and the Proud. Carl Rowan was a very successful individual despite the many adversities he faced.

Marti Reiff said...

It’s amazing to see how much African American journalists of the 20th century accomplished despite the severe criticisms they received because of their color. Being the first and only journalist to win the “Sigma Delta Chi” award three times is quite the success and the way he got there makes the achievement that much more astounding. Rowan worked hard to get to where he wanted to be and his story proves anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I saw from my research that he was one of the first African Americans to serve as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy, which is another achievement to add to his list. He may have faced some hardships towards the end of his life, but he will always be remembered as an extremely accomplished journalist of his time.

Jeremy Palmer said...

Going through the challenges and difficulties that many of these notable African-Americans had to go through, I'm not sure if could personally stand the abuse and neglect that they went through. Carl Rowan had such a rough start to life and being able to receive all the awards and recognition is quite incredible. Nowadays college kids complain how their parents won't give them money, or trying to find a party to go to on the weekends. Carl Rowan didn't have this luxury and had to work throughout college which probably meant he didn't have many breaks for himself. We take so much for granted, that we should all look back at this notable men and women and realize how much we should be thankful for.