Raspberry was born on October 12, 1935 in Okolona, Mississippi. He graduated in 1958 with a BS in history from Indian Central College. In 1956, Raspberry began his career in journalism as reporter-editor for the Indianapolis Recorder and, after a two-year tour of duty in the United States Army, 1960-62, took a similar position with the Washington Post. Since 1966, he was worked as the Post's urban affairs columnist, has contributed articles to a variety of popular magazines on such topics as race relations and public education, and has appeared as a television commentator and panelist. Between 1971 and 1973, Raspberry was an instructor of journalism at Howard University.