Colbert I. King was nominated by President Jimmy Carter in the fall of 1979 to serve as U.S. Executive Director to the World Bank. Upon his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Mr. King became the first African American to represent the United States in that global financial institution. He was awarded the Secretary of the Treasury’s Distinguished Service Award for his role in the development of the World Bank’s structural adjustment lending program and the seating of the People’s Republic of China.
Following his World Bank appointment, Mr. King served as an executive vice president and member of the Board of Directors of the Riggs National Bank of Washington, DC. During his nearly 10 years with Riggs, Mr King concentrated on international banking and federal financial services.
“Colby” King joined the editorial board of The Washington Post on Aug. 1, 1990, and was appointed deputy editor of the editorial page from January 2000 until his retirement in 2007. He continues to write a weekly column under his own byline. Mr. King was awarded the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, and was a finalist for both the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and the 2000 American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award for commentary/column writing. For many years he was a regular panelist on the weekend political TV show “Inside Washington” and a commentator for WTOP, a Washington, DC radio station.
From 1977 to 1979, Mr. King was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury with responsibility for international legislation. He served from 1972 to 1976 as minority staff director of the Senate’s District of Columbia Committee, where he helped draft home-rule legislation and campaign-finance and conflict-of-interest rules for the nation’s capital. Between his work in the Senate and in the Carter administration, Mr. King was the first director of government relations for the Potomac Electric Power Co.
Mr. King worked for the State Department from 1964 to 1970, including a three-year stint at the U.S. Embassy in Bonn. Before that he served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Adjutant General’s Corps from 1961 to 1963.
Mr. King has served on the boards of several organizations, including WETA, Arena Stage, Mount Vernon College, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, the Washington Historical Society and AFRICARE. He received the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from DC Appleseed, the 2008 Reginald S. Lourie Award, and the 2009 John R. Kinard Leadership in Community Service Award from the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. He was presented the 2007 First Amendment Award by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the 2010 Chairman’s Award from the National Press Foundation, and was named a 2009 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine.
Mr. King was born in Washington, D.C. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government in 1961 at Howard University, where he also pursued graduate work in public administration and later received the Alumni Award for Post Graduate Achievement. In 2008, Mr. King and his wife inaugurated the Gwendolyn S. and Colbert I. King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University. In May 2018, he received the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Howard University. The University of the District of Columbia awarded him the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in May 2013.
He is married to the Hon. Gwendolyn Stewart King, a former commissioner of the U.S. Social Security Administration. They have three adult children.