Over the course of her decades-long career, Aretha Franklin built a legacy as one of the greatest performers in American history. Now, that legacy includes a record-breaking Pulitzer Prize. As reported by CNN, on April 15th, Franklin became the first woman to win a Pulitzer special citation prize.
The Pulitzer website states that Franklin received the posthumous honor for her “indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.” A second special citation prize was awarded to the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, for their response to a mass shooting in their newsroom.
Poynter Media News notes that there have been 41 special citation prizes awarded since 1930 (the honor is not awarded every year). And while we wish it hadn’t taken so long for a woman to be included in this list, we also can think of few people as deserving as the Queen of Soul. Eric Deggans, NPR’s TV critic and author of the book Race-Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, told Poynter that he was “surprised it’s taken this long.”
Previous special citation prize winners include musicians like Bob Dylan, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and George Gershwin. Here’s to hoping that Franklin paves the way for more women (and women of color) to be recognized for this immense honor.