William Worthy, a foreign correspondent who challenged travel bans during the Cold War, died of Alzheimer’s disease on May 4 in Brewster, Mass. He was 92.
According to the Associated Press, Worthy’s death was announced by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.
Worthy, a Boston native, worked as a reporter for a host of news outlets including the Baltimore Afro-American and CBS News.
He advocated for civil rights for much of his adult life and covered revolutions in
numerous countries across the globe. In 1956, he took an unauthorized trip to China to report on the Korean War. While in China, he interviewed leader Zhou Enlai and Samuel David Hawkins, an American soldier who had been captured by the Chinese.
Upon his return to the U.S., Worthy’s passport was seized. But that didn’t stop his trip to Cuba four years later where he went to report on Fidel Castro’s Communist revolution.
When he returned from Cuba, Worthy was convicted of entering the country illegally. However, a federal court later declared the law unconstitutional. The story inspired singer Phil Och’s “The Ballad of William Worthy.”
Worthy went on to teach journalism at Boston University, where he headed the
university’s African American journalism department. Shortly thereafter, he went on to teach at Howard University where he served as the special assistant to the dean of the School of Communications.
From the AFRO Archives