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Williams, Verda L. (1944-2021)



  • Existence: 1944 - 2021


Verda L. Williams, video communications specialist at the Iowa State University Extension Service (Ames), was born in Des Moines, Iowa on October 13, 1944. She graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1962, attended Morgan State College and the University of Minnesota, and graduated with a B.A. from Drake University in 1966 and an M.A. from Iowa State University in 1987.

An aspiring actress, Williams was denied leading roles in high school and at Drake University because she was black. Determined to pursue her interest in theater, however, she majored in journalism with an emphasis on radio and television production, a field in which she felt she would find less discrimination.

Throughout her career Williams has had wide-ranging experience as a writer and producer for radio, theater, and television productions. She has received much recognition and numerous awards for her work.

Starting in the mid-1960s as an announcer and interviewer for several Iowa radio stations, she later produced and wrote for the theater in Chicago and Des Moines. Working at NBC-TV in New York from 1970 to 1978 she produced and wrote many features, including "Positively Black," a one-hour, weekly public affairs program. After leaving NBC, Williams pursued a movie career. In 1979 she was the production office coordinator for a CBS-TV movie, "Hard Hat and Legs," and a production assistant for the feature film, Can't Stop the Music. When the demands of raising her daughter, Nova, and the long hours demanded for movie production became increasingly difficult to balance, Williams moved back to Des Moines in 1980.

As communications specialist for WOI-TV (Ames) she wrote, produced and hosted "Life Force," a monthly thirty-minute program (1981-1986) and two television specials, "Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard" (1985) and "The Gift of Song" (1987). Each special received a National Continuing Education Award. Williams earned the United Press International Award for "Black Des Moines" as well. "Positively Black" was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1978. In 1998 she was one of six alumni honored by Drake University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Williams also wrote an unpublished book, "Rabbit," with singer Nona B. Hendryx in 1973.

Verda L. Williams passed away in 2021.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Verda Williams papers

Identifier: IWA0137

Communication specialist at Iowa State University who produced the documentary Black Des Moines: Voices Seldom Heard.

Dates: 1965-2004