Samuel G. Freedman is an award-winning author, columnist, and professor. A former columnist for The New York Times and a professor at Columbia University, he is the author of the 10 acclaimed books, including the newly-released Into the Bright Sunshine: Young Hubert Humphrey and the Fight for Civil Rights. Jon Meacham has hailed the book as “a compelling and important account of Humphrey’s critical role in the freedom struggles of the mid-20th century.”
Freedman’s previous books are Small Victories: The Real World of a Teacher, Her Students and Their High School (1990); Upon This Rock: The Miracles of a Black Church (1993); The Inheritance: How Three Families and America Moved from Roosevelt to Reagan and Beyond (1996); Jew vs. Jew: The Struggle for the Soul of American Jewry (2000); Who She Was: My Search for My Mother’s Life (2005); Letters To A Young Journalist (2006); and Breaking The Line: The Season in Black College Football That Transformed the Game and Changed the Course of Civil Rights (2013).
With his colleague Kerry Donahue, Freedman co-produced a radio documentary and authored a companion book, both entitled Dying Words: The AIDS Reporting of Jeff Schmalz and How it Transformed The New York Times. The documentary and book were released in conjunction with World AIDS Day on December 1, 2015, and since then the documentary has been broadcast on more than 500 NPR member stations. In 2020, Freedman wrote Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: The Journey From Stage to Screen, the companion book to the film adaptation of August Wilson’s classic play.
Small Victories was a finalist for the 1990 National Book Award and The Inheritance was a finalist for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize. Upon This Rock won the 1993 Helen Bernstein Award for Excellence in Journalism. Four of Freedman’s books have been listed among The New York Times’ Notable Books of the Year.
Jew vs. Jew won the National Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction in 2001 and made the Publishers Weekly Religion Best-Sellers list. As a result of the book, Freedman was named one of the “Forward Fifty” most important American Jews in the year 2000 by the weekly Jewish newspaper The Forward.
Freedman was a staff reporter for The New York Times from 1981 through 1987. From 2004 through 2008, he wrote the paper’s “On Education” column, winning first prize in the Education Writers Association’s annual competition in 2005. From 2006 through 2016, Freedman wrote the “On Religion” column, receiving the Goldziher Prize for Journalists in 2017 for a series of columns about Muslim-Americans that had been published over the preceding six years.
Freedman has contributed to numerous other publications and websites, including The New Yorker, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Daily Beast, New York, Rolling Stone, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, Salon, Slate, Chicago Sun-Times, Tablet, The Forward, Ha’aretz, The Undefeated, The Root, and BeliefNet.
A tenured professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Freedman was named the nation's outstanding journalism educator in 1997 by the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2012, he received Columbia University’s coveted Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching. Freedman’s class in book-writing has developed more than 110 authors, editors, and agents, and it has been featured in Publishers Weekly and the Christian Science Monitor. He is a board member of the J. Anthony Lukas Book Awards and member of the Journalism Advisory Council of Religion News Service and the faculty advisory board of the Center for Journalism Ethics. He has spoken at the Smithsonian Institution, Yale University, and UCLA, among other venues, and has appeared on National Public Radio, CNN, and the PBS News Hour.
Freedman holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which he received in May 1977. He lives in New York with his wife, Christia Chana Blomquist.