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Eugene Patterson; won Pulitzer, advocated for civil rights

WASHINGTON — Eugene Patterson, a major figure in journalism and a Pulitzer Prize winner who was known for his courage in standing up for civil rights and opposing racial hostilities while an editor of a newspaper in the Deep South during a difficult period, died Saturday in Florida. He was 89.

A World War II veteran, he served as editor of the Atlanta Constitution in the 1960s while writing an influential column.

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In 1963, he wrote that all Southern whites were complicit in the deadly bombing of a church in Birmingham, Ala. The blast, later credited to an offshoot of the Ku Klux Klan, killed four young black girls.

Mr. Patterson was hired in 1968 to be managing editor of the Washington Post, where he spent three years. He later became editor of the St. Petersburg Times and chairman of the Poynter Institute in Florida.

He won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

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