From the beginning, Vernon A. Williams, BA’73, wanted to be a writer.
Growing up in Gary, Indiana, he wrote his first play in the fourth grade, which was performed in class. In middle school, he started a weekly hand-printed newsletter on notebook paper. He pitched an unsolicited radio program as a high school freshman to a local station that put him on the air. Two years later, he wrote and hosted the first student broadcast over the school corporation radio station. As a junior, he started a teen news column for Gary Info Newspaper – where his biggest “scoop” was being first to report the Jackson Five signing with Motown Records.
Those youthful experiences inspired a career in broadcast and print media, as well as education, that spanned more than 55 years. Williams started at The (Gary) Post-Tribune as a reporter, columnist and editorial board member. He was morning drive personality for “The Breakfast Club” and hosted the call-in program “Sound Off” on WLTH, and was station manager for WGVE.
Among his most notable career interviews were Lena Horne, Dick Gregory, Colin Powell, Jesse Jackson and Phylicia Rashad.
In 2001, Williams moved to Indianapolis to become marketing supervisor for Indianapolis Public Schools Career-Technical Education. After IPS, he became vice president, communications, for Indiana Black Expo, where he developed marketing and communication strategies, prepared high-impact communication material, wrote speeches, developed leadership presentations and organized press conferences.
Williams left Expo to become assistant to the chancellor for communication at IUPUI before taking his current position as communication and community engagement strategist for the premier urban research campus. He is a leader of IUPUI’s Africana Repertory Theatre and executive director of OnyxFest — the first and only annual Indiana theater festival featuring works of Black playwrights.
Williams is a news analyst and commentator for the Chicago/Gary Crusader Newspaper. He is president of the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists and is on the Board of Directors for Heartland Films. He is a former president of IU’s Neal-Marshall Alumni Club.
He has written four books, the latest being, “God Said Tell You.” He has written and produced 11 plays — the most recent, “A Noise in the Attic,” will premiere in November.
Williams earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from IU and a master’s in communication from Purdue University.
His myriad honors include the IU Alumni Association President’s Award, IU Groups Program Covered Bridge Award, Center for Leadership Development Community Leaders Award, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis Silver Anniversary Service Award, The National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa – Beta Mu Chapter Community Service Award, Hoosier State Press Association First Place in Newswriting and the Indianapolis Recorder Champions of Diversity Award.