Kevin Merida led the national desk at The Washington Post for the past four years. (Julia Ewan/The Washington Post)

The Washington Post named Kevin Merida its new managing editor in charge of news and features coverage on Monday.

Merida, 56, who has been The Post’s national editor for the past four years, will be the paper’s first African American managing editor.

He has worked at The Post for 20 years, starting off covering Congress and the 1994 Gingrich Revolution. After contributing to election coverage in 1996, he moved to the Style section. Later, he coordinated The Post’s year-long award-winning series“Being a Black Man.” He covered the 2008 presidential campaign as a roving feature writer.

As the head of national news, Merida oversaw coverage of the killing of Osama bin Laden; the BP oil spill; the 2012 presidential campaign; the shootings at Fort Hood, Tex., and in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn.; and the battle over health care. During his tenure, the Fact Checker was reintroduced, The Fix was expanded, and a new blog, She the People, was initiated.

Merida is a co-author of the 2007 biography “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas” and a ­co-author of the 2008 book “Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs.”

“He is a journalist of remarkable accomplishment, but also a warm and caring colleague,” Executive Editor Martin Baron said in a statement.

“My objective is just to create excitement about what we do and the importance of it and to nurture inspiration,” Merida said in an interview. “I think we have a great news organization and want everyone to feel that way about it.”

He said that “everything flows out of that. We don’t lack ideas. We don’t lack talent. We have what we need.”

Merida replaces Liz Spayd, who stepped down and left the paper last month.

John Temple will remain The Post’s other managing editor, overseeing digital operations and initiatives; budgeting; newsroom operations; and presentation units including design, photo and graphics.

Before naming Merida, The Post reached outside the paper four times in a row to fill its two top slots. Merida brings familiarity with the Washington area and the newspaper’s staff. He was raised in Southeast Washington and Prince George’s County, where his parents still live. He was in the first class of busing in Prince George’s County in 1973 as a 10th grader and made that the subject of an essay for The Post a quarter-century later.

“I love the rich tradition of The Washington Post,” Merida said. “But this is our time, and we need to create new traditions, new legacies. We owe that to the people who came before us and to the people reading us now and in the future.”

Merida graduated from Boston University in 1979 with a degree in journalism. Before joining The Post, he worked at the Milwaukee Journal, where he was a general-assignment reporter and an editor on the city desk. He left the Journal in 1983 for the Dallas Morning News, where he served as a special projects reporter, local political writer, national writer, White House correspondent, and assistant managing editor in charge of foreign and national news coverage.

Merida is married to author and former Post columnist Donna Britt. They have three sons and live in Silver Spring.