Byron Pitts, co-anchor of ABC’s “Nightline” and author of “Step Out On Nothing,” will be the keynote speaker for Patriot Day on Monday, Sept. 12, at Southeast Missouri State University.
Pitts will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Academic Hall Auditorium, kicking off Southeast’s 2016-2017 Speaker Series. The title of his address is “An Evening with Byron Pitts.” The event is free for faculty, staff, students and the public, and no tickets are necessary.
Known for his thought-provoking coverage and his commitment to exceptional storytelling, Pitts is a multiple Emmy Award winning journalist. A news veteran with over 20 years of experience, Pitts has covered major stories including the war in Afghanistan, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the military buildup in Kuwait and the refugee crisis in Kosovo.
Pitts’ many achievements are all the more extraordinary when he tells of the many obstacles he faced as a child. He shares his incredible story of perseverance and strength in his memoir “Step Out On Nothing: How Family and Faith Helped Me Conquer Life’s Challenges.”
Raised by a single mother in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, Pitts was illiterate until the age of 12 and had a persistent stutter. Capitalizing on his desire to play football, his mother mandated he receive Bs or above in school in order to play. With that focus, Pitts learned to read and went on to attend Ohio Wesleyan University.
With the help of his roommate and a college professor, Pitts found the support and encouragement necessary to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, a field that demands excellence in writing and speaking. By staying focused, setting simple and achievable goals and finding strength in faith, Pitts overcame powerful odds. He graduated in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and speech communication.
Pitts realized a life-long goal when he was named a contributing correspondent to CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 2009. In 2013, Pitts became an anchor and the chief national correspondent at ABC. Prior to working for ABC, he was the chief national correspondent for CBS’ “Evening News with Katie Couric.”
His grit and determination shone throughout his illustrious career garnered him several prestigious awards, including a national Emmy Award for his coverage of the Chicago train wreck of 1999, a National Association of Black Journalists Award and a second national Emmy Award for individual reporting as CBS’ lead correspondent at ground zero immediately following the Sept. 11 attacks. He is also the recipient of four Associated Press Awards and six regional Emmy Awards.
Sharing anecdotes and details of his own personal challenges while growing up, Pitts encourages audiences to reach for their dreams and to strive past struggles to achieve success. He challenges audiences to be brave enough to “step out on nothing” to help others reach their own goals.