May 15, 1994
Alabama native Hazel Brannon Smith, who in 1964 became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, died in Tennessee at the age of 80. Smith was born in Etowah County and got her first newspaper job at 16. After graduating from the University of Alabama, she became owner of the Durant News in Holmes County, Mississippi. She went on to own and manage several other newspapers in the South as her former segregationist views began to evolve. By the middle 1950s she had become an outspoken opponent of racial discrimination and began to express it in her papers. Facing threats of violence as well as financial intimidation, Smith stood her ground. The Pulitzer committee noted Smith’s “steadfast adherence to her editorial duties in the face of great pressure and opposition.” After years of failing health, she died in a nursing home. She was buried alongside family members in Gadsden.
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