Roger Wilkins

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Roger Wilkins
Roger Wilkins.jpg
15th United States Assistant Attorney General
In office
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded by Mabel Walker Willebrandt (1929)
Succeeded by Wesley Pomeroy
Personal details
Born (1932-01-29)January 29, 1932
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
Died March 26, 2017(2017-03-26) (aged 85)
Kensington, Maryland, U.S.
Cause of death Complications from dementia
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Patricia King (until his death)
Residence Washington, D.C., U.S.
Alma mater University of Michigan
Occupation Civil rights activist, professor, historian and journalist

Roger Wilkins (January 29, 1932 – March 26, 2017) was an African-American civil rights leader, professor of history, and journalist.


Wilkins was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on January 29, 1932,[1] and grew up in Michigan. He was educated at Crispus Attucks Elementary School[2] in Kansas City, Missouri, then Creston High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Wilkins received his undergraduate degree in 1953 and J.D. in 1956 both from the University of Michigan, where he interned with the NAACP and was a member of the senior leadership society, Michigamua.[3]


Wilkins worked as a welfare lawyer in Ohio before becoming an Assistant Attorney General in President Lyndon B. Johnson's administration at age 33, one of the highest-ranking blacks ever to serve in the executive branch up to that time.

Roger Wilkins was sworn in as Director of Community Relations Service on Friday 4 February 1966 in a ceremony at The White House as per page 2 of President Johnson's Diary for that day.[4]

Leaving government in 1969 at the end of the Johnson administration, he worked briefly for the Ford Foundation before joining the editorial staff of The Washington Post.

Along with Carl Bernstein, Herbert Block ("Herblock"), and Bob Woodward, Wilkins earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for exposing the Watergate scandal that eventually forced President Richard Nixon's resignation from office. He left the Post in 1974 to work for The New York Times, followed five years later by a brief stay at the now-defunct Washington Star; in 1980 he became a radio news commentator, working for National Public Radio (NPR).

Wilkins was the Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia until his retirement in 2007, during his tenure at George Mason, Wilkins was, arguably, one of the most preeminent professors in residence at that time. Wilkins was also the publisher of the NAACP's journal, The Crisis, and was the nephew of Roy Wilkins, a past executive director of the NAACP.

Wilkins resided in Washington, D.C., and was married to Patricia King, Professor of Law at Georgetown University.

Wilkins died on March 26, 2017, in Kensington, Maryland from complications of dementia, he was 85.[5]



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