2021 Pulitzer Prizes
For courageous, prescient and sweeping coverage of the coronavirus pandemic that exposed racial and economic inequities, government failures in the U.S. and beyond, and filled a data vacuum that helped local governments, healthcare providers, businesses and individuals to be better prepared and protected.
For reporting that uncovered a systematic failure by state governments to share information about dangerous truck drivers that could have kept them off the road, prompting immediate reforms.
For an exhaustive examination, powered by a pioneering data analysis of U.S. federal court cases, of the obscure legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” and how it shields police who use excessive force from prosecution.
For a series of lucid, definitive pieces on the COVID-19 pandemic that anticipated the course of the disease, synthesized the complex challenges the country faced, illuminated the U.S. government’s failures and provided clear and accessible context for the scientific and human challenges it posed.
For resourceful, creative reporting that exposed how a powerful and politically connected sheriff built a secretive intelligence operation that harassed residents and used grades and child welfare records to profile schoolchildren.
Staffs of The Marshall Project; AL.com, Birmingham; IndyStar, Indianapolis; and the Invisible Institute, Chicago
For a year-long investigation of K-9 units and the damage that police dogs inflict on Americans, including innocent citizens and police officers, prompting numerous statewide reforms.
For a series of clear and compelling stories that used satellite imagery and architectural expertise, as well as interviews with two dozen former prisoners, to identify a vast new infrastructure built by the Chinese government for the mass detention of Muslims. (Moved by the Board from the Explanatory Reporting category, where it was also entered and nominated.)
For a deeply affecting account of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery that combined vivid writing, thorough reporting and personal experience to shed light on systemic racism in America.
For a brave and gripping account of global migration that documents a group’s journey on foot through the Darién Gap, one of the most dangerous migrant routes in the world.
For penetrating and historically insightful columns that guided Richmond, a former capital of the Confederacy, through the painful and complicated process of dismantling the city's monuments to white supremacy.
Lisa Hagen of WABE, Atlanta, Chris Haxel of KCUR, Kansas City, Graham Smith and Robert Little of National Public Radio
For an investigative series on “no compromise” gun rights activists that illuminated the profound differences and deepening schism between American conservatives.
Books, Drama & Music
A nuanced account of the complicated role the fast-food industry plays in African-American communities, a portrait of race and capitalism that masterfully illustrates how the fight for civil rights has been intertwined with the fate of Black businesses.
The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X, by the late Les Payne and Tamara Payne (Liveright/Norton)
A powerful and revelatory account of the civil rights activist, built from dozens of interviews, offering insight into his character, beliefs and the forces that shaped him.
A collection of tender, heart-wrenching and defiant poems that explore what it means to love and be loved in an America beset by conflict.
Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy, by David Zucchino (Atlantic Monthly Press)
A gripping account of the overthrow of the elected government of a Black-majority North Carolina city after Reconstruction that untangles a complicated set of power dynamics cutting across race, class and gender.
Premiered at David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center, New York City on February 13, 2020, a musical journey full of surprise, with powerful brass and rhythmic motifs that incorporate Black music traditions from the US and the Caribbean into a Western orchestral fabric.