William Worthy, Jr.
is an African-American journalist
, civil rights activist, and dissident
who pressed his right to travel regardless of U.S. State Department
Massachusetts, Worthy is a graduate of Boston Latin High School, and
received a B.A. degree in sociology from Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, in 1942. Worthy was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, class of 1957.
Right to travel controversies
traveled to China (1956-57) and Cuba (1961) in
violation of United States State Department travel regulations.
At the time he entered
China, Worthy was the first American reporter to visit and
broadcast from there since 1949.
was seized upon his return to the U.S. from China and American
lawyers Leonard Boudin
and William Kunstler
represented Worthy in an
unsuccessful lawsuit seeking the return of his passport. Without a
passport, Worthy traveled to Cuba in the early days of Fidel Castro
to report on the Cuban revolution,
and upon his return to the U.S. he was tried and convicted for
"returning to the United States without a valid passport." Worthy
was again represented by Kunstler, who successfully persuaded a
federal appeals court to overturn Worthy's conviction. The U.S. Court of Appeals for
the Fifth Circuit
found the restrictions unconstitutional
. The court held
that the government could not make it a crime under the Constitution
to return home
without a passport. Years later, Kunstler wrote in his autobiography
, My Life As A Radical
, that the Worthy passport case was his "first
experience arguing an issue about which I felt passionate," was the
"first time I had ever invalidated a statute," and that success
"confirmed my faith in the justice system."
Folksinger Phil Ochs
wrote a song called
"The Ballad of William Worthy" about Worthy's trip to Cuba and its
The Committee for the Freedom of William Worthy was formed in 1962
and was chaired by A. Phillip Randolph
and Bishop D. Ward
a conscientious objector in
World War II, and in 1954 he voiced
early opposition to American involvement in Vietnam after he
visited Indo-China in 1953.
William Worthy and Michael Lindsey co-taught the first class in
Critical Journalism in the country. Noam Chomsky was a guest
Civil rights activist
During the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Worthy was a civil rights
activist, and in the early 1960s
he was an outspoken critic of the civil rights movement for not
going far enough to achieve civil rights in housing and all areas
of American life. In the late 1960s, Worthy organized a
rent strike against a Catholic hospital in New York City that attempted to tear down Worthy's apartment
building and turn it into a parking lot.
Worthy later wrote
about those experiences in a critically acclaimed book, The
Rape of Our Neighborhoods,
published in 1976.
The late psychologist, Kenneth B.
, said of Worthy: "The Bill
Worthys of our society provide the moral fuel necessary to prevent
the flickering conscience of our society from going out."
Career teaching journalism
continued to work in the field of journalism and in the 1970s he
was appointed as head of the African American journalism program at
However, the highly controversial and ultra-conservative 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
the luggage of Worthy and two other journalists working with him,
Terri Taylor and Randy Goodman, was seized by the FBI and CIA
on their return from Iran; and they
subsequently won a suit on Fourth
his BU appointment, Worthy taught journalism at UMass Boston.
William Worthy and Michael Lindsey
co-taught the first class in Critical Journalism in the country at
the College of Public and Community service, a branch of UMass
Boston. Noam Chomsky was a guest lecturer.
Worthy also taught at Howard University in the 1980s and 1990s and 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
On February 22
, the Nieman
honored Worthy with the prestigious Louis M. Lyons Award
- The Vanguard: A photographic essay on the Black Panthers, by Ruth-Marion Baruch,
Parkle Jones, and William Worthy (Paperback - Jan 18, 1970).
- The Rape of Our Neighborhoods: And How Communities Are
Resisting Take-Overs by Colleges, Hospitals, Churches, Businesses,
and Public Agencies, by William, Worthy (Hardcover – 1976)
(Paperback - April 1977).
- Interview with Prince
Sihanouk, by William Worthy (Unknown Binding - 1965).
- The story of the two first colored nurses to train in
Boston City Hospital, Boston, Mass., by William Worthy
(Unknown Binding - 1942) written by his Father, Dr. William Worthy,
who arranged for their entrance to Nurses' training.
- Our disgrace in Indo-China, by William Worthy (Unknown
Binding - 1954).
- Pampered dictators and neglected cities:
The Philippine connection, by William Worthy (Unknown Binding
- The Silent Slaughter: The Role Of The United States In The
Indonesian Massacre, by Eric Norden, William Worthy, Andrew
March, and Mark Lane (Youth Against War & Fascism) Norden
(Pamphlet - 1967).
- Kunstler, William M., My Life As A Radical Lawyer, pp.
95-97 (Birch Lane Press 1994).