Leon Dash

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Leon Dash
Born (1944-03-16) March 16, 1944 (age 79)
- New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.
Education Howard University
Occupation journalist
Notable credit(s) Pulitzer Prize-winner

Leon Dash (born (1944-03-16)March 16, 1944, in New Bedford, Massachusetts) is a professor of journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A former reporter for the Washington Post, he is the author of Rosa Lee: A Mother and Her Family in Urban America, which grew out of the eight-part Washington Post series for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. On October 31, 2014 the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission found Dash in violation of the Illinois State Employees and Officials Ethics Act.[1]


Dash grew up in New York City and later attended Howard University. He spent 1969-1970 as a Peace Corps high school teacher in Kenya.[2] He joined the Washington Post in 1965 where he worked as a member of the special projects unit, as part of the investigative desk, and as the West Africa Bureau Chief.

Rosa Lee, which started as an eight-part series for the Washington Post in September 1994, is the story of one woman and her family's struggle against poverty in the projects of Washington, D.C.

Aside from winning a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism for the story, the Rosa Lee piece was also the recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and was later published into a book. It was picked as one of the best 100 pieces in 20th-century American Journalism by New York University's journalism department.

While living in the inner city of Washington, D.C., for a year, Dash researched teenage pregnancy in black youths for his book, When Children Want Children: The Urban Crisis of Teenage Childbearing. The book features conversations with teens and contains stories that contradict the common belief that inadequate birth control and lack of sex education classes are the causes of teenage pregnancy.

He received an Emmy Award in 1996 from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for a documentary series in the public affairs category of hard issues.

In 1998 Dash joined the University of Illinois as a professor of Journalism. He was later named the Swanlund Chair Professor of Journalism, Law, and Afro-American Studies in 2000. Three years later he was made a permanent faculty member in the University's Center for Advanced Study.

Dash is a founder of the National Association of Black Journalists.[3]


  1. (PDF) https://will.illinois.edu/nfs/09.16.15_Greene_Dash_Blake_Released_Report.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Peace Corps (2000). "Notableotable former Peace Corps Volunteers in Education". Peace Corps. Retrieved 2007-07-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. NABJ Founders.

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