August 11

August 11, 1925 – Carl T. Rowan

Carl Rowan 1965

Journalist Carl Rowan speaking at a National Security meeting on Vietnam in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 1965.

One of the most influential journalist of the twentieth century, Carl Thomas Rowan was born August 11, 1925 in Ravenscroft, Tennessee to Thomas and Johnnie Rowan.  Rowan excelled early in life with a commitment towards education; he graduated class president and valedictorian from Bernard High School in 1942.  He attended Tennessee State University, and graduated from Oberlin College in 1947 and obtained a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota in 1948.  Rowan served as one of the first African American United States Navy commissioned officers.  His journalism career began as a writer for African American newspapers the Minneapolis Spokesman and St. Paul Recorder.  His journalism journey carried him to The Minneapolis Tribune where he worked as a copywriter and staff writer covering the Civil Rights Movement.  Rowan moved into the political aisles of government after President John F. Kennedy appointing him as the first African American Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in 1961.  He also served as a delegate to the United Nations in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, U.S. Ambassador to Finland and in 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointing him the first African American Director of the United States Information Agency.   Rowan is most remembered by many for his editorials and syndicated columns in over 100 newspapers across the country.  He was a syndicated columnist from 1966 to 1998 for the Chicago Sun-Times.  Rowan also was also known for his weekly radio commentaries with the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company.  He died on September 23, 2000 in Washington, DC at age 75.   Rowan was survived by his wife Vivian, two sons and a daughter.