Remembering Patricia McKissack '75, Internationally Acclaimed Author, Teacher

Apr. 11, 2017

Remembering Patricia McKissack '75, Internationally Acclaimed Author, Teacher
McKissack was among the most prolific children's authors on African-American history and lore.

The Webster University community mourns the passing of Patricia McKissack (MA ’75), an internationally acclaimed children’s book author.

McKissack's prolific writing career began when, as an eighth-grade teacher, she saw the lack of children’s literature for minorities. She began to create African-American characters and stories to entertain and enlighten young people.

In collaboration with her beloved husband, Fred, she went on to write more than 100 children’s books, from original characters to biographies of historic names like Martin Luther King Jr., Langston Hughes, Jesse Owens, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell.

Her works earned nine Coretta Scott King Awards, a Newbery Honor, two NAACP Image awards, and many more honors. Many were adapted for theatre and screen.

She also continued to be involved with Webster University, where she earned her master's degree in early childhood literature and media programming in 1975. She served on the School of Education’s advisory board and received the College of Arts & Sciences Outstanding Alumna Award in 2005. She was an honorary degree recipient at the 2010 commencement, receiving the Doctor of Letters.

“Pat was an amazing woman, whose legacy will live on through all of the books that are used daily in classrooms across the country,” said Brenda Fyfe, dean of the School of Education. “She was a true credit to Webster.”

Learn more about her life and impact in this obituary from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Below, see a video interview with Pat and Fred discussing how they got started, how they found inspiration, and how important it is to read to children:

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