WHUR Remembers our very own Maurice Williams, who was killed doing his job.

getdata.asp.htmlIt’s Flashback Friday and we couldn’t let this month end without taking time to remember our very own Maurice Williams, a WHUR News Reporter who was killed in the  Hanafi Muslims’ 1977 assault on the District Building 37 years ago in March.  It was then, that Hanafi Muslims seized the Islamic Center, B’nai Br’ith and the District Building holding about 130 hostages for 39 hours.

The memory of that incident may have faded for many people by now. But, those like Marion Barry, who was also shot during the incident, still have scars to show from it.

Maurice Williams was a D.C. kid, born and raised. He was a reporter for what was then one of the first black-owned radio stations in the country, a little corner of the media landscape that was experimenting with a new approach to covering the news, “trying to cover the city, nation and world as no African-American radio station had before,” said Kojo Nnamdi, then WHUR’s news editor. But Williams, at 24, was also a poet and a dreamer, a kid who drew a comic strip about a planet called Eltar-6, a kid who grew up loving his city and the potential he saw during those early days of self rule.

The kid wanted to join Nnamdi and WHUR alumnus Milton Coleman, by then a City Hall reporter for The Washington Post, for lunch on that fateful day, but the kid was not allowed “to hang with the big boys,” Nnamdi said, the regret still evident in the timbre of his voice.

While Coleman and Nnamdi went off for Chinese food on 13th Street, Maurice Williams returned to his post It. He was coming out of the elevator when a terrorist wielding a shotgun blew holes in his red sweater. Williams died instantly. Special Police Officer Mack Cantrell was wounded in the incident and died days later. Marion Barry was hit with a shotgun pellet right above his heart. He narrowly avoided being killed.

It’s said that time heals all wounds, but the WHUR family and the Washington, DC news community still honors Maurice Williams, who was killed as he went about his job of reporting on the city government.

That honor became permanent seven years ago, 30 years after the attack, with a special ceremony held outside the Press Room on the 5th Floor of the Wilson Building. Then mayor Adrian Fenty, the city council, city officials, other news journalists, WHUR’s current General Manager Jim Watkins, Maurice’s mother and his his two young nephews were all assembled to rename the tiny press room in Maurice Williams’ honor.

If you go to the 5th floor you will see a plaque outside of that room recalling William’s sacrifice and his work for WHUR.


Maurice Williams’ mother, Lillie Bertha, stands before a plaque dedicated to the memory of her son


Maurice Williams’ nephews hold photographs of their slain uncle


At the Dedication Ceremony – Then D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty gives Maurice Williams’ mother a certificate as Williams’ nephews look on.


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WHUR 96.3 FM – Howard University is Washington’s only stand-alone radio station and one of the few university-owned commercial radio stations in America, broadcasting since 1971 to nearly a half million listeners daily in five states and can now be heard around the globe on the web at whur.com. The first radio station in the Washington area to broadcast in HD, WHUR is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious NAB Marconi for Best Urban Station of the Year and NAB Crystal Radio Award for Excellence in Community Service.

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