May 21, 2004

CHICAGO VOICES: An excerpt from Michael Burke’s remarks introducing Alex Kotlowitz at the Community Media Workshop’s 2004 Studs Terkel Awards

Like Studs Terkel, Alex Kotlowitz was born in New York City. Like Studs, Alex learned about Chicago and the world by walking the forgotten streets, talking to
often overlooked people. Like Studs, Alex has written books, and worked in radio and TV, as well. Unlike Studs, Alex has not yet been investigated by the House Un-American Activities Committee -- of course, that might change after he receives the Terkel award tonight! You never know who’s listening.

Alex has said, "I am at best a storyteller." And his stories have appeared everywhere from the Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker to WBEZ and Frontline. He is probably best known for two stories, his books: The Other Side of the River, which looks at racial isolation in Benton Harbor, Michigan, following the death of Eric McGinnis; and There Are No Children Here, which follows the lives of two brothers, Lafayette and Pharaoh, as they grow up in Chicago’s Henry Horner Homes. Alex’s new book -- Never a City so Real -- looks at some of the "outsiders" he has encountered in Chicago. The book will be published this summer and his "stories of money" will air on public radio this fall.

Like that other great storyteller, Studs Terkel, Alex Kotlowitz is dedicated to making our world a smaller place by helping each of us better understand what we have in common with one another -- both good and bad.

It is my honor to present this 2004 Studs Terkel Award for Journalistic Excellence to Alex Kotlowitz.


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