Douglas Blackmon

Director of Public Programs, Executive Producer of American Forum

Fast Facts

  • Executive Producer and Host of American Forum
  • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Slavery by Another Name
  • Working on forthcoming book with former Attorney General Eric Holder
  • Expertise in race relations, slavery, history of the American South 

Areas Of Expertise

  • Domestic Affairs
  • Education
  • Human Rights and Civil Rights
  • Law and Justice
  • Media and the Press
  • Race and Racism
  • Social Issues
  • Politics

Douglas A. Blackmon is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, and co-executive producer of the acclaimed PBS documentary of the same name. He is also executive producer and host of American Forum, a public affairs program produced by the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and aired on more than 200 public television affiliates across the U.S.

His book, a searing examination of how the enslavement of African-Americans persisted deep into the 20th Century, was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. The Slavery by Another Name documentary was broadcast in February 2012 and attracted an audience of 4.8 million viewers. Slavery by Another Name grew out of his 2001 article on slave labor in The Wall Street Journal. It revealed the use of forced labor by dozens of U.S. corporations and commercial interests in coal mines, timber camps, factories, and farms in cities and states across the South, beginning after the Civil War and continuing until the beginning of World War II.

Blackmon was the longtime chief of The Wall Street Journal’s Atlanta bureau and the paper’s Senior National Correspondent, and was a contributing editor at the Washington Post. He has written about or directed coverage of some of the most pivotal stories in American life, including the election of President Barack Obama, the rise of the tea party movement, and the BP oil spill. Overseeing coverage of 11 southeastern states for the Journal, he and his team of reporters were responsible for the Journal’s acclaimed coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the failed federal response after that disaster; the Journal’s investigation into the training and preparations of the 9/11 hijackers in Florida; immigration; poverty; politics; and daily reporting on more than 2,500 corporations based in the region.

As a writer and editor at large, Blackmon led the Journal’s coverage of the tea party and the final hours before the BP oil spill—for which he and a team of other Journal writers were finalists for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Those stories received a Gerald Loeb Award in June 2011.

Blackmon has written extensively over the past 25 years about the American quandary of race–exploring the integration of schools during his childhood in a Mississippi Delta farm town, lost episodes of the Civil Rights movement, and, repeatedly, the dilemma of how a contemporary society should grapple with a troubled past. Many of his stories in The Wall Street Journal explored the interplay of wealth, corporate conduct, the American judicial system, and racial segregation. International assignments have included the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the reunification of East and West Germany, the civil war in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia, post apartheid South Africa, and the international war crimes tribunal in the Hague. Political assignments have included the inauguration of President Obama in 2008, presidential campaigns of 1988, 2002, 2008, and 2012, the post presidency of Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton while governor of Arkansas in the 1980s.

Blackmon is also a co-founder and board member of two socially and ethnically diverse charter schools serving more than 600 students, including his own two children, in grades Kindergarten through eight in the inner city of Atlanta.

In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Slavery by Another Name was a New York Times bestseller in both hard cover and soft cover editions, and was awarded a 2009 American Book Award, the 2009 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters non-fiction book prize, a 2008 Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Award, the NAACP Freedom Fund Outstanding Achievement Award, and many other citations. He has been honored by the state legislature of Georgia for distinguished scholarship and service to history. In 2010, he received the Grassroots Justice Award from the Georgia Justice Project.

Blackmon is a much sought-after lecturer on race, history, and social memory. In Spring 2010, he was invited by Attorney General Eric Holder to present a lecture to senior Department of Justice of officials in Washington D.C. He also has lectured at Harvard School of Law, Yale University, Princeton, the New School, Emory University, Vanderbilt School of Law, the Clinton and Lincoln presidential libraries, and many other institutions.

Prior to his work at The Wall Street Journal, Blackmon covered race and politics at the Atlanta Journal Constitution for seven years. His reporting on corruption at Atlanta City Hall in the 1990s helped lead to the conviction and imprisonment of eight city officials, including two former councilmen and the city’s chief investment officer.

Raised in Leland, Miss., Blackmon penned his first newspaper story for the weekly Leland Progress at the age of 12. He received his degree in English from Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. He lives in downtown Atlanta and Charlottesville, Va.


Douglas Blackmon News Feed

Against the backdrop of growing community focus, a Sugar Land city task force has been established to make recommendations on the internment and reburial of 95 human remains found at a construction site in Fort Bend, according to a news release issued Monday by the city.
Douglas Blackmon Houston Chronicle
The Miller Center's Douglas Blackmon has been invited to participate in a task force that will ensure that the remains of the people discovered on the Sugar Land, Texas, school district's property are memorialized with the utmost dignity and in a manner that honors their historical significance.
Douglas Blackmon Sugar Land Patch
Prisoners are protesting harsh conditions imposed on them while incarcerated. Many of them citing poor treatment, low work-wages, and unfair, lengthy sentences. Rev. Al brings attention to their plight and quest for prison reform with an informed panel. He is joined by Douglas Blackmon, author of “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II” and Darren Mack a former inmate turned prison reform activist.
Douglas Blackmon MSNBC
Those states imposed what the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Douglas Blackmon rightly describes as “Slavery by Another Name” — sweeping Negroes into custody for petty offenses like vagrancy, then turning them over to plantation owners and others who sometimes notified the local sheriff in advance of how much labor they needed. This practice, which persisted in various forms up to World War II, stripped African-Americans of the ability to accumulate wealth while holding them captive in dangerous, disease-ridden environs that killed many of them outright. The Sugar Land site offers present-day Americans a look at this shameful period from an unusual vantage point.

Douglas Blackmon The New York Times
Even more perniciously, wealthy whites found ways to circumvent the end of slavery. The 13th Amendment outlawed slavery “… except as a punishment for crime.” In his book “Slavery by Another Name,” Douglas A. Blackmon provides accounts of devious ways slavery continued for decades after the Civil War.
Douglas Blackmon Bay State Banner
Where is the outcry? Where are the chorus of proposals for museums or monuments, the calls for some kind of reparation? Where is the apology to the thousands of African-Americans who, like those found on the grounds of a new Fort Bend ISD school, toiled under the searing Texas sun as part of a Jim Crow-era convict-leasing system that author Douglas Blackmon has called “slavery by another name?”
Douglas Blackmon Houston Chronicle