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  Byron Pitts

CBS' Byron Pitts to Present Annual MLK Address at Ross

1/6/2011 --

Emmy-winning journalist overcame great odds to achieve success.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Emmy Award-winning journalist Byron Pitts will deliver the Ross School of Business' annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday address, "MLK Stepped Out on Nothing for Us," at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at Blau Auditorium.

As chief national correspondent for "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric," Pitts is well known for his thought-provoking coverage and commitment to exceptional storytelling. His work under fire as an embedded reporter covering the Iraq War has been widely recognized.

"We are thrilled that Byron Pitts will be here to give our MLK keynote this year," said Lynnette Iannace, director of school events at Ross. "His hard work and determination to overcome many obstacles he faced as a child is an inspirational story befitting the message of Dr. King that all of us should be judged by the content of our character."

Raised by a single mother in a working-class neighborhood in Baltimore, Pitts was illiterate until age 12 and had a persistent stutter. Capitalizing on his desire to play football, his mother mandated that he receive good grades in school in order to play.

Pitts learned to read and went on to attend college. With the help of his roommate and a college professor, Pitts found the support and encouragement necessary to pursue a career in broadcast journalism. He graduated in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and speech communication.

Pitts has earned several prestigious awards throughout his broadcast career, including national Emmy Awards for his coverage of the Chicago train wreck of 1999 and for individual reporting of 9/11. He also has received a National Association of Black Journalists Award, four Associated Press Awards, and six regional Emmy Awards.

He chronicles his journey in the inspiring memoir Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges. The book celebrates the people who "stepped out on nothing" to help Pitts realize his dreams.

Ross' annual MLK event is open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 647-1847,