Carole Simpson, Senior Leader-in-Residence of the Journalism Department and former ABC News anchor, will receive the Jackie Robinson Foundation’s ROBIE Award in a ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City on March 4.
Actor Bill Cosby will host the event for the 31st consecutive year.
“It’s just thrilling,” Simpson said. “I’m so proud and grateful that the Foundation saw it fit to present me with one of the ROBIE awards,” the Foundation’s highest tribute.
In a letter to Simpson, the Foundation said that its members are “proud to pay tribute to your extraordinary achievements, including your courageous reporting on social issues and major news stories as well as your dedication to fighting racism and sexism.”
“Your great deeds, your compassion, and your grace also make you a wonderful role model for young people,” the letter said.
Simpson teaches courses in beat reporting and reporting on issues of diversity at Emerson. She was the first African American woman to anchor a major television network evening newscast, the first woman or minority to be the sole moderator of a presidential debate, and the first woman to broadcast radio news in Chicago.
Also receiving a ROBIE Award this year are Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University; Thomas Tull, founder and CEO of Legendary Pictures, Inc.; and Bruce Ratner, chairman and CEO of Forest Ratner Companies.
Previous recipients include Desmond Tutu, George Lucas, Robert Redford, Tom Brokaw, Ella Fitzgerald, and Spike Lee.
“I’ve looked at the people who’ve received the awards in the past and I am humbled that I’m among them,” Simpson said.
The award honors outstanding individuals who have worked to promote equal opportunity and social discourse in the spirit of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in major league baseball.
“I didn’t know much about Jackie Robinson when I was growing up,” Simpson said, “but I remember the excitement of my parents talking about him. I knew his name as a child and knew he must have been an incredible person to go through what he went through, and to be successful as a baseball player. He [was] a big hero,” she said.