Eugene Patterson, Southern white journalist who championed civil rights, dies at 89

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Newspaper editor and columnist Eugene Patterson, who helped fellow Southern whites understand the civil rights movement, has died. He was 89.

Family spokeswoman B.J. Phillips says Patterson died peacefully Saturday evening surrounded by family and friends at his Florida home of complications from cancer.

Patterson was editor of the Atlanta Constitution when he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for editorial writing. He wrote about the civil rights movement at a time when many Southern newspapers were reluctant to cover it.

Patterson also served as the managing editor of The Washington Post before coming to the St. Petersburg Times in 1972. Under his leadership, the Times won two Pulitzer Prizes and became known as one of the top newspapers in the country.