UC Santa Cruz philosophy alumnus Jeffrey Stewart wins 2019 Pulitzer Prize for biography

cover of book by  Jeffrey Conrad Stewart
UC Santa Cruz alumnus Jeffrey Conrad Stewart
UC Santa Cruz alumnus Jeffrey Conrad Stewart (Cowell College ’71, philosophy)

UC Santa Cruz alumnus Jeffrey Conrad Stewart (Cowell College ’71, philosophy) has been awarded the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, his definitive biography of the father of the Harlem Renaissance.

Meticulously researched, the book explores Locke's professional and private life--from his early education, which included becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar, to his promotion of black culture and the literary and artistic work of African Americans, shifting the discussion of race from politics and economics to the arts.

The Pulitzer award follows Stewart winning the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2018.

Now a professor of Black Studies at UC Santa Barbara and chair of the Black Studies Department, Stewart has spent his career studying the issues of race and culture as they relate to art, history, literature, music, and philosophy.

His previous books include 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About African American History and Paul Robeson: Artist and Citizen.

After graduating from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in philosophy, Stewart received his Ph.D. from Yale University in American Studies. He became director of research at the Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Museum, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and a senior advisor to the Reginald Lewis Museum of African American History and Culture in Baltimore, Maryland.

He was also a Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Rome III, a W.E.B. Du Bois and a Charles Warren Fellow at Harvard University, and lecturer at the Terra Foundation for American art in Giverny, France.

The author of numerous articles, essays and books, Stewart has additionally taught at Harvard University, Yale, UCLA, Tufts University, Howard University, Scripps College, and George Mason University.

UC Santa Cruz now has seven winners of nine Pulitzer Prizes.

Past alumni recipients include New Yorker staff writer William Finnegan (who also won in the biography category for 2016); Martha Mendoza of the Associated Press; Dana Priest with the Washington Post; Laurie Garrett with Newsday; and Hector Tobar and Annie Wells, who worked at the Los Angeles Times.

Both Mendoza and Priest have the distinction of receiving two Pulitzers; they have each been honored for both investigative reporting and public service.