A Pulitzer Prize is kind of a big deal.
As the most prestigious award in American journalism, literature and music, it’s not quite a BET Hip-Hop Award (word to Iggy Azalea), but it sure as hell warrants an update to your Twitter bio—and your annual salary.
Since its auspicious arrival in 1917, this distinction—named after legendary newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer—has bestowed the illustrious title of “Pulitzer Prize winner” to only the best and the brightest, as the rest of us mere mortals can only watch in admiration and awe until our own time comes.
On Monday, Prize administrator Dana Canedy announced the latest collection of recipients at Columbia University in New York City. And though I regret to inform you that I failed to take home the prize this year (feel free to suspend your belief long enough to pretend that I was even nominated), those who did are among elite company—as there was plenty of black excellence to be found.
Aretha Franklin, the undisputed Queen of Soul, was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer for her decades of “indelible contribution to American music and culture.”
“Many of us this year [...] have been reflecting on the impact of Aretha,” Canedy told The Root. “She’s special. And her impact on the country is something we’ve been reflecting on since her death. It just seemed appropriate to show her R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
Additional winners who were celebrated for their melanin magic include:
- Cartoonist Darrin Bell for his “beautiful and daring editorial cartoons that took on issues affecting disenfranchised communities, calling out lies, hypocrisy and fraud in the political turmoil surrounding the Trump administration.”
- New York Times scribe Brent Staples for “editorials written with extraordinary moral clarity that charted the racial fault lines in the United States at a polarizing moment in the nation’s history.”
- Fairview playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury for creating “a hard-hitting drama that examines race in a highly conceptual, layered structure, ultimately bringing audiences into the actors’ community to face deep-seated prejudices.”
- The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke author Jeffrey C. Stewart for creating “a panoramic view of the personal trials and artistic triumphs of the father of the Harlem Renaissance and the movement he inspired.”
Respect due to each and every one of these brilliant individuals, who will also receive a $15,000 award for their contributions.
The full list of winners and nominees is available here.