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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Benjamin V. Williams papers
    Dates: 1957-2012
    Collection number: MS 194
    Creator: Williams, Benjamin V.
    Collection Size: 4 linear feet (8 boxes + 1 oversized box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Benjamin V. Williams papers consists on correspondence, news reports, audiovisual material, speeches, employment records, photographs, and memorabilia documenting Ben Williams’ long career as a journalist and reporter for KPIX and other news San Francisco Bay news organizations.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    Access to audiovisual material is restricted. See archivist for details.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Benjamin V. Williams Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Benjamin V. Williams papers, MS 194, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Benjamin V. Williams Papers were donated to the African American Museum & Library at Oakland by Benjamin V. Williams Jr. in July, 2016.

    Processing Information

    Collection was processed by Sean Heyliger, 2017-02-17.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Journalist and television reporter Benjamin Vernon Williams (1927-2012) was born on January 25, 1927 in St. Louis, Missouri. He grew up in a working class neighborhood in St. Louis attending Riddick Elementary School and graduated from Charles Sumner High School, the first high school for African Americans west of the Mississippi River, in June, 1945. After graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army working as an administrative assistant for two years. At the time, higher education in Missouri was segregated and African Americans were not able to attend the University of Missouri. Lincoln University, a historically black college in Jefferson City, Missouri, was the only college in Missouri open to African Americans that offered a degree in journalism. He enrolled at Lincoln University in the fall of 1947, majoring in journalism and sociology, before moving back to St. Louis where he split time working at the post office while also working at the St. Louis Call and the St. Louis Argus as a newspaper reporter.
    In 1955, he moved briefly to Los Angeles, California still working at the post office while working at the Los Angeles Sentinel. Two years later he asked for a transfer to the post office in Oakland, California and began working as a reporter first for the Bay Area Daily Record and then at the Sun-Reporter. At the Sun-Reporter, veteran news reporter Thomas Fleming acted as a mentor for the young reporter. His position at the Sun-Reporter was unpaid and Williams enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he continued to take classes in journalism eventually earning his degree in June 1962. He was offered his first paid position as a journalist in 1963, when Gale Cook, city editor at the San Francisco Examiner, offered him a position at the newspaper. When he was hired at the San Francisco Examiner, he was the first African American journalist at the newspaper.
    Three years later, Westinghouse Broadcasting, Inc., the parent company of local CBS affiliate KPIX, began to actively recruit and hire African American television reporters. KPIX station manager Lou Simon approached Williams and offered him as position as a television news reporter at the station. After joining KPIX in 1966, he became the first African American television reporter in northern California. While working as a television news reporter at KPIX, he covered stories on the Free Speech Movement on the University of California Berkeley campus, Vietnam War protests, the assassination of Bobby Kennedy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California, the Black Panther Party, Symbionese Liberation Army’s kidnapping of Patty Heart, and the trial of serial killer Juan Corona. In 1977, he was awarded an Area Emmy Award from the San Francisco Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for his exclusive interview with Sara Jane Moore after her attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in San Francisco, California on September 22, 1975. In 1972, he was promoted to weekend anchorman and in 1975 became Oakland News Bureau Chief. He worked for KPIX for over 25 years until his retirement in 1990.
    As a television reporter at KPIX, Williams was the recipient of numerous awards in journalism including the San Francisco Press Club Award for the story of a balloonist and a multi-part series “The myth of welfare,” an Edward V. McQuade / Catholic Newsman Association award for his multi-part series on the plight of the elderly, “Old folks at home,” and a Silver Circle inductee in the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Benjamin V. Williams papers consists on correspondence, news reports, audiovisual material, speeches, employment records, photographs, and memorabilia documenting Ben Williams’ long career as a journalist and reporter for KPIX and other news San Francisco Bay news organizations. The papers are organized into six series: I. Biographical material, II. Journalism, III. Audiovisual material, IV. Photographs, V. Assorted printed material, VI. News and political buttons.
    Biographical material Williams’ resumes as a journalist, speeches delivered to social organizations, and newspaper clippings documenting his career. The journalism series is organized into four subseries – San Francisco Examiner, KPIX, Sara Jane Moore, and Awards. The San Francisco Examiner subseries documents Williams’ early career as a journalist working at the Examiner and the Bay Area Daily Record and includes correspondence from editors and the general public, news story drafts for significant historical events including President John F. Kennedy’s assassination , employment records, and press releases. The KPIX subseries includes Williams’ correspondence, employment records, notebooks covering the Huey Newton trial and Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign, and press passes during his long career as Oakland news bureau with the television station. The Sara Jane Moore subseries consists mostly of Williams’ correspondence over 30 years with Sara Jane Moore while she was incarcerated in federal prison for attempting to assassination President Gerald Ford. Also included are Williams’ news story drafts and transcripts of his news broadcasts following her arrest.
    Audiovisual material consists mostly of Williams’ broadcasts as a news reporter for KPIX. Included in the series are Williams’ prison interview with Sara Jane Moore following her arrest, KPIX’s live coverage of Robert Kennedy’s assassination in Los Angeles, California, and recordings of live radio reports following the Symbionese Liberation Army’s kidnapping of Patty Hearst. The photographs series includes 11 photographs documenting William’s career as a journalist at KPIX. Assorted printed material consists of rare newspapers, calendars, magazines, and flyers mostly related to African American in the San Francisco Bay area and includes a funeral program from the memorial services for Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale’s press release on Blaxploitation films, and cartoonist Morrie Turner’s annual Wee Pals calendar and Soul Corner dedicated to William’s career. The news and political button series consists of Williams’ small collection of political and news related buttons which includes KPIX news buttons and political buttons for the campaigns of Jesse Jackson and Joseph Alioto.

    Arrangement

    Series I. Biographical material Series II. Journalism Series III. Audiovisual material Series III. Photographs Series IV. Assorted printed material Series V. News and Political Buttons

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Williams, Benjamin V.
    Moore, Sara Jane, 1930-
    KPIX Television (San Francisco, Calif.)
    African American journalists--California--Biography.
    San Francisco (Calif.)--History--Sources.

    Related Material

    Interview with Benjamin V. Williams, Robert C. Maynard Institute for Journalism Education Oral History Collection, African American Museum & Library at Oakland.