Brooks was born in St. Louis. He was a stocky red-headed man with an ardent boating habit. His father, James W. Brooks, was also a newspaper reporter and "desk man". Brooks won the prize while employed at The Detroit News.
The photograph with which Brooks won the prize was called Ford Strikers Riot. It was taken during the 1941 workers' strike at a Ford manufacturing plant, and shows strikers beating a strikebreaker, who is trying to protect himself by pulling his coat over his head and face.
Describing the circumstances surrounding the photo, Brooks said, "I took the picture quickly, hid the camera under my coat and ducked into the crowd. A lot of people would have liked to wreck that picture."
- Pulitzer Prize Winners: 1942
- "Winners of 1942 Pulitzer Awards and Two Successful Entries" New York Times, May 5, 1942.
- "M.E. Brooks, Photo Prize Winner, Dies", Detroit News, Sept 4, 1956.
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