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Reporter Pitts to Speak at King Commemorative Program January 28

Byron Pitts

The African American Cultural Center will present national news correspondent Byron Pitts for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., commemorative program Thursday, January 28, 2010.

Pitts will present a keynote address on the theme “Stepping Out on Nothing: The Future Meets the Present” at 7:00 p.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center’s Fisher Auditorium.

The program is free and open to the community. The program concludes with a book signing and reception with Pitts in the Performing Arts Center mezzanine.

Pitts was named a contributor to 60 Minutes and chief national correspondent for the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric in January 2009. He had been a national correspondent since February 2006.

Pitts was a lead reporter for CBS News during the September 11, 2001, attacks and won a national Emmy Award for his coverage. He also received a national Emmy for his coverage of the Chicago train wreck in 1999 and a National Association of Black Journalists Award. He received four Associated Press awards and six regional Emmy Awards.

Before being named a contributor to 60 Minutes, Pitts reported occasionally for the show. His first story on the broadcast, an interview with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin in August 2006, made national news. Prodded by Pitts about how long it was taking to clean up his city’s streets a year after Hurricane Katrina, Nagin shot back by mocking New York City’s longtime efforts to rebuild Ground Zero.

As an embedded reporter covering the Iraq War, he was recognized for his work under fire within minutes of the fall of the Saddam statue.

Other major stories covered by Pitts include Hurricane Katrina, the war in Afghanistan, the military buildup in Kuwait, the Florida fires, Elian Gonzalez, the Florida Presidential recount, the mudslides in Central America, and the refugee crisis in Kosovo.

Pitts was named CBS News correspondent in May 1998 and was based in the Miami and Atlanta bureaus before moving to New York in January 2001.

Before that, Pitts was a correspondent for CBS Newspath, the twenty-four-hour affiliate news service of CBS News, based in Washington, D.C.

He came to CBS News from WSB-TV Atlanta, where he was a general assignment reporter. Pitts was a special assignment reporter for WCBV-TV Boston and a reporter and substitute anchor for WFLA-TV Tampa. He also served as a reporter for WESH-TV Orlando and as a military reporter for WAVY-TV Virginia. While at WNCT-TV Greenville, N.C., he reported and served as weekend sports anchor.

A native of Baltimore, he is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and resides in Upper Montclair, N.J.

Before Pitts’ presentation, the African American Cultural Center will present a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., film festival from 9:30 a.m. to noon in the Crimson Event Center.

From noon to 2:30 p.m., there will be a luncheon and workshop. The film Precious will be shown at 3:00 p.m.

For more information about the event, contact the African American Cultural Center at 724-357-2455.