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Lena Williams

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Information about Lena Williams

Profile image of Lena Williams

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Reporter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
London, England
Favorite Quote:
Right Don't Wrong Nobody.

Birthplace

Born:
3/2/1950
Birth Location:
Washington, District of Columbia

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Newspaper Reporter

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Fried Chicken
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
London, England
Favorite Quote:
Right Don't Wrong Nobody.

Birthplace

Born:
3/2/1950
Birth Location:
Washington
See how Lena Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Retired senior writer for The New York Times, Lena Marguerite Williams was born on March 2, 1950 in Washington, D.C. The daughter of Ralph Williams and Lena M. Adams Williams, she was raised near the Howard Theatre on T Street. She attended Cleveland Elementary School, Garnet-Patterson Junior High School and started the school newspaper at Cardozo High School where she graduated in 1968. Matriculating to Howard University, Williams served as a sports reporter for The Hilltop and for Howard University’s radio station, WHUR-FM. She reported on Howard’s historic NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Championship in 1971. Williams graduated cum laude with her B.A. degree in English in 1972 and spent that summer as an intern-reporter for The Washington Post. In 1973, she earned her M.S. degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

Before joining The New York Times, Williams was associate editor of Allen Barron and Dick Edward’s pioneering Black Sports magazine. She joined The New York Times as a clerk in the sports department in March of 1974, where she was mentored by Red Smith, Dave Anderson and Jim Tuitt. In August of 1976, she became a reporter trainee on the metropolitan desk. In 1977, Williams garnered the first of several Publishers Awards for her story on ten year old drug dealer in Harlem. That same year, Rosario et al. v. The New York Times , a minority employee initiated lawsuit, was settled by The New York Times for $1.8 million. In 1978, she transferred to the Westchester bureau as a correspondent. From 1980 to 1981, Williams was assigned to cover the state legislature in Albany, New York. In 1986, she was transferred to Washington, D.C. to establish a new civil rights beat. There, Williams covered the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the nomination struggles of Judge Clarence Thomas. Williams became a lifestyles reporter in 1998, but eventually returned to sports reporting. Retiring from The New York Times in 2005, she moved back to her native Washington, D.C.

Williams was a Visiting Journalist Fellow at Duke University in 1993. In 1997, she was elected vice chair and later chair of the 1,500 member, New York Times Newspaper Guild. Williams is the recipient of many awards, including the Penney-Missouri Award. The National Association of Black Journalists presented her with the 1990 Award of Excellence. Williams received the Black Achievers Award from the YMCA in 1978. She is the author of It’s The Little Things: The Everyday Interactions That Get Under The Skin of Whites and Blacks, which was published by Harcourt in 2000. The book derived from a 1997 story that appeared in The New York Timesand was featured on ABC’s 20-20.

Williams is single and lives in Washington, D.C.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 8, 2007.

See how Lena Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lena Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lena Williams lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lena Williams describes her mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lena Williams remembers her maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lena Williams describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes her father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lena Williams describes her father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Lena Williams describes her earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Lena Williams recalls her neighborhood in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Lena Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lena Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lena Williams recalls the Howard Theatre and Dunbar Theater in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lena Williams recalls her family's first television set
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lena Williams remembers segregation in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her experience of discrimination at a circus
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lena Williams remembers the March on Washington
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lena Williams recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Lena Williams remembers her father's death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Lena Williams remembers Cleveland Elementary School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers Garnet-Patterson Junior High School in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lena Williams remembers Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lena Williams remembers Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lena Williams remembers Francis L. Cardozo Senior High School in Washington, D.C., pt. 3
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her early aspiration to write
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes her introduction to sports writing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Lena Williams describes her sports heroes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Lena Williams recalls her freshman year at Howard University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Lena Williams remembers her experiences at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers her philosophy professor, Eugene Holmes
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lena Williams remembers her English professor, Dr. Johnson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lena Williams remembers Dean Edna Calhoun
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lena Williams describes her journalism professor, Cato Whitley
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lena Williams remembers the popular music at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lena Williams recalls her involvement in the Black Power movement
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Lena Williams remembers befriending the soccer team at Howard University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Lena Williams recalls the Howard University soccer team's NCAA championship
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Lena Williams talks about women's sports at Howard University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lena Williams recalls her decision to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lena Williams talks about African American sports writers
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lena Williams describes Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lena Williams recalls her thesis about playground basketball, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her thesis about playground basketball, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes the relationship of sports and drugs in New York City
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lena Williams remembers joining the staff of Black Sports magazine
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lena Williams describes her experiences at Black Sports magazine
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers joining the staff of The New York Times
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lena Williams recalls her mentors at The New York Times
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lena Williams remembers Red Smith
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lena Williams recalls her support from African American athletes
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lena Williams recalls her promotion to general assignment reporter trainee
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lena Williams recalls reporting on the drug economy for The New York Times
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lena Williams remembers her assignment to Westchester, New York
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Lena Williams remembers covering civil rights for The New York Times
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Lena Williams recalls reporting on Clarence Thomas
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Lena Williams talks about befriending Clarence Thomas
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Lena Williams recalls Clarence Thomas' appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Lena Williams reflects upon her career at The New York Times
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Lena Williams remembers writing 'It's the Little Things'
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Lena Williams recalls the reception to 'It's the Little Things', pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Lena Williams recalls the reception to 'It's the Little Things', pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Lena Williams remembers working with the Newspaper Guild of New York
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Lena Williams recalls her retirement from The New York Times
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Lena Williams reflects upon the changes at The New York Times
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Lena Williams describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Lena Williams describes her plans for her next book
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Lena Williams describes her concerns for the African American community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Lena Williams describes her concerns for the African American community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Lena Williams reflects upon her life
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Lena Williams reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Lena Williams narrates her photographs