Pulitzer Prize Winners
By Irish America Staff
August / September 2000
Irish-American journalist (and Top 100 2000 honoree) Katherine Boo won the Pulitzer gold medal for public service for her two-part series describing abuse, sometimes lethal, of mentally handicapped residents of group homes in the District of Columbia. Boo spent 13 months reporting after a visit to a group home revealed residents sitting in complete darkness in roach-infested rooms. Boo learned that residents who died in these circumstances were often buried in unmarked graves. In response to her coverage the city government has promised to reform the system, the head of the Mental Retardation and Development Disabilities Administration was fired, and the U.S. Department of Justice and the F.B.I. launched investigations.
Upon receiving the award, Boo stated, “I feel that the prize is a small marker that the Pulitzer board has put down on these unmarked graves, and it says that the people who died here and who suffered here mattered.”
A fellow Irish American garnered the Pulitzer for history. David M. Kennedy’s one-volume work Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-45 is part of the Oxford History of the United States series. A native of Seattle, Dr. Kennedy is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History at Stanford University. He is also the author of Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger, winner of the Bancroft Prize, and Over Here: The First World War and American Society, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 1980. ♦