William Worthy
William Worthy was an activist reporter for the Baltimore and Washington Afro American newspapers.

Worthy traveled to the People’s Republic of China in 1957 in violation of a US State Department ban on travel to the country. Worthy became the first American reporter to visit the country where he interviewed Samuel Hawkins, an African American soldier who was captured in Korea and defected to China in 1953.

Worthy’s passport was seized upon his return to the U.S. and with attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Boudin representing him, a lawsuit to regain the return of the passport was unsuccessful.

Unbowed, Worthy traveled to Cuba in 1961 in the early days of Fidel Castro’s revolution without a passport where he reported on conditions in Cuba. He was arrested upon his return and convicted of traveling without a U.S. passport. This time Kunstler was successful upon appeal when a U.S. Court of Appeals found the U.S. could not make it a crime to return home without a passport.

He worked for the Afro American on and off from 1953-1980

Worthy continued to work in the field of journalism and in the 1970s he was appointed as head of the African American journalism program at Boston University. However, the BU president, John Silber, removed Worthy as head of the program after Worthy criticized the BU administration and he supported BU campus workers who were attempting to unionize.

In 1981, the luggage of Worthy and two other journalists working with him, Terri Taylor and Randy Goodman, was seized by the FBI on their return from Iran; and they subsequently won a suit on Fourth Amendment grounds.

He also taught at UMass Boston and at Howard University where he held the Anneberg Chair. During most of the 1990s until 2005, Worthy lived in Washington, D.C., where he served as a special assistant to the dean of the School of Communications at Howard U. and served on the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center.

Worthy joined a long line of Baltimore Afro-American reporters who blended their journalism with activism including Ralph Matthews, John H. Murphy Sr., Carl J. Murphy, and Clarence Mitchell, Jr.

Worth was a conscientious objector during World War II and as early as 1953 an opponent of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

He was a civil rights activist beginning in the 1940s and was on the left wing of the civil rights movement and often issued sharp critiques of mainstream civil rights leaders for their “go slow” approach.

Worthy died at the age of 92 in 2014.
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