Williams, Juan 1954–
Juan Williams 1954–
Author, journalist, radio show host
Juan Williams’ name and face are easily recognized in political journalism, radio, and television. An award-winning journalist, he has been a national and White House correspondent for the Washington Post, with his work appearing in that publication for 23 years. His articles have also been published in several national magazines, including Newsweek, Fortune, Ebony, Atlantic Monthly, and The New Republic. His personal interest is civil rights and race relations, and he has authored two books: the best-selling Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 and Thur-good Marshall: American Revolutionary. Williams has also written television documentaries, on of which earned him an Emmy Award. A sought-after speaker, he has addressed groups throughout the nation, at colleges, corporations, trade associations, citizen associations, and civil right groups, often speaking on diversity and race issues. He has appeared regularly on Fox News Sunday as a panelist, has been a rotating host of American’s Black Forum, and has had regular appearances on Nightline, Washington Week in Review, Crossfire, The MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, and Capitol Gang Sunday. He also hosted Talk of the Nation, a National Public Radio call-in talk show.
Juan Williams was born to Rogelio L. and Alma Géraldine Williams on April 10, 1954 in Colon, Panama. His father was an accountant, and his mother worked as a secretary. He won a scholarship to Oak-wood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, New York, a Quaker school. Looking back on his experience at Oakwood Friends School thirty years later, as he spoke at Haverford College about education during the national convention of the Friends Council on Education, he told the audience of how attending the private school had made a difference in his life. He went on to Haverford College after graduating from Oakwood. Williams credited his experiences at Oakwood with allowing him to exceed the vision he had held for himself. His speech to the Friends Council on Education discussed diversity in the Quaker schools, commenting on the fact the he was one of few blacks attending at the time. Williams majored in philosophy at Haverford College in Philadelphia and graduated in 1976 with a bachelor’s degree.
Williams began his career in journalism by interning at the Washington Post in 1976. He was then hired full-time, and as a journalist for the Washington Post he was an editorial writer, national correspondent, columnist, and White House reporter. He spent 23 years there.
It was while covering White House affairs during the Reagan administration that Williams became interested in civil rights. Among other issues, President Reagan, who originally opposed the idea, presided over the declaration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. When Williams spoke to students at the Reynolds School of Journalism in 2001 he was quoted in the Zephyr as saying “There was a lot of tension between black and white reporters. There was a lot of the tension in society in the newsroom.” He said that journalism had allowed him to move into white-dominated areas, and that when he served as a White House reporter earlier in his career he was “a novelty” at the time. “Here was a black man talking about events at the White House.”
Born Juan Williams on April 10, 1954, in Colon, Panama; son of Rogelio L. an accountant, and Alma Geraldine (Elias), a secretary; married Susan Dclise July 1, 1978; children: Antonio Mason, Regan Almina. Education: Haverford College, B.A. philosophy, 1976.
Career: The Washington Post, columnist and reporter, 1976–99;, Fox News, anchor, 1997–, Fox News Sunday, panelist, 1997–; National Public Radio, radio show host, 2000-01; America’s Black Forum, host, 1996–.
Memberships: Haverford College Board of Trustees; Aspen Institute of Communications and Society program; Washington Journalism Center; New York Civil Rights Coalition.
Selected Awards: Front Page Award, WashingtonBaltimore Newspaper Guild, 1979; Education Writers of America, 1979; Columnist of the Year, Wasbingtonian. 1982; Emmy Award, 1989; Outstanding memorial Book Award, Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States; Best National Book Award, Time magazines; honorary doctorates, Haverford College and State University of New York.
Addresses : Home —Washington, DC. Agent—Rafe Sagalyn, Raphael Sagalyn, Inc., 2813 Bellevue Terrace, NW, Washington. IX. 20007.
He added that racial issues are still present within the media today.
In 1987 Williams’ book, Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 was published by Viking. Each chapter was devoted to specific civil rights events during those years, such as the school desegregation case in Topeka, Kansas of Brown v. Board of Education. This was the case that brought first black Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall fame. At the time, Marshall was an attorney for the NAACP. Other events covered in the book include the march on Washington in 1963, the desegregation of Little Rock, Arkansas schools in 1957, and the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. The book was a companion volume to the six-part public television series of the same name, and traced events of the civil rights movement from its start, including various facets of the movement, many of the people involved, as well as the changes that resulted. Williams also incorporated numerous interviews he had conducted with the people who had been involved in the movements, including many lesser-known, but equally important, people who struggled for equal rights. The book was praised for its truthful reality, and became a bestseller.
Williams hosted Talk of the Nation, a national call-in radio program, for 18 months in 2000-2001. As part of the program, he visited towns around America and held town hall meetings; the meetings became part of the National Public Radio series called The Changing Face of America. Its purpose was to discuss the changing society and culture of the United States at the millennium. Williams told journalism students at the Reynolds School of Journalism at University of Nevada Reno,” The goal from the start has been to look at America at the turn of the century. What it was really like—key cultural, political, economic and social trends.”
When Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas was defending sexual harassment charges in 1995, Williams was supportive of him in his writings and on television. He also defended Thomas when Williams appeared on Crossfire as a co-host to Pat Buchanan. But Williams found himself the subject of news stories and facing verbal sexual harassment charges from female Post employees. The charges resulted in disciplinary actions and an apology from Williams.
Williams took time off from his duties with the Washington Post to write Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary. Published by Times Books in 1998, reviews of the work were mixed, but generally good. Williams studied the more personal side of Thurgood Marshall and was granted many interviews by him over a six-month period during 1989. Marshall served as a Supreme Court Justice from 1967 to 1991; he died two years after stepping down. Marshall had led a life steeped in the civil rights movement: he fought racial discrimination many times as lead attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during 1938-1961. His best-known case was the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, in which he was victorious in helping desegregate schools. He went on to serve as federal appeals court judge and Solicitor General before being appointed to the Supreme Court by President Johnson. It is during his years on the court that Williams’ biography is said to be the weakest, owing to Williams’ own weakness in jurisprudence.
In America, reviewer Daniel Levine said, “After Marshall became a judge, Williams seems to have less interest in him. The cases, even important ones, are dealt with hastily, and, unfortunately, very few of Marshall’s vigorous dissents are described. Williams is more original in filling in some bureaucratic dimensions of Marshall’s life.” In National Review, John O. McGinnis wrote, “Juan Williams’s book is most successful in recreating the vanished world of Marshall’s upbringing. Williams draws a picture of a community that maintained the quiet dignity of self reliance even in the face of economic hardship and social prejudice.” Williams was quoted as having told Brian Lamb in the Duquesne University publication, The Times, “This was at the end of his career, the end of his life, and it was a rich time and one in which he was willing to talk. It has been a great gift to me.” And although the book was criticized as being thin on Marshall’s Supreme Court years, that lack has been credited to Williams’ difficulty in obtaining certain records. Williams’ support of Clarence Thomas, who succeeded Marshall, resulted in the NAACP Legal Defense Fund barring him from the research materials he needed to fill out the biography.
Williams has written several documentaries, including his critically acclaimed Politics—The New Black Power, and A. Philip Randolph—For Jobs and Freedom. His From Riot to Recovery won an Emmy Award in 1989.
Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 Viking, 1987
Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary, Times Books, 1998.
Juan Williams, Eyes on the Prize: 1954-1965, Viking, 1987.
America, April 10, 1999, p. 32.
The Duquesne University Times, March 20, 2000.
National Review, December 7, 1998, p. 62.
New York Amsterdam News, August 30, 2001, p. 35.
Newsweek, October 28, 1991, p. 33.
Time, October 28, 1991, p. 30.
America’s Black Forum, http://www.Americasblackforum.cm/meetthehosts.asp">http://www.Americasblackforum.cm/meetthehosts.asp
The Brown Daily Herald, http://www.theherald.org/issues/021999/writer.f.html
Council For American Private Education (CAPE), http://www.capenet.org/Out5-99.html
Columbia Journalism Review, http://www.cjr.org/year/91/6/d_l.asp
National Public Radio (NPR), http://www.npr.org/about/people/bios/jwilliams.html
Tucson Weekly, http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tw/12-17-95/curr3.htm
University of New Hampshire, http://www.unh.edu.mlk-day.html
Library of Congress, http://lcweb.loc.gov/today/pr/1999/99-184.html
—Sandy J. Stiefer
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