“I need your advice on something,” Julian wrote in an email last spring. “What do you think of my creating a blog designed to post news about our wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.? There is so much talent in our family, and we are doing so many great things.”
In another, he wrote to say that he liked this blog. “I am so proud of you, my dear cousin! Keep up the good work.”
“It’s so great to reconnect with you,” I wrote back. “When Zuri gets back to Atlanta, we’ll have to meet somewhere, maybe Savannah.”
Tragically, Julian is being laid to rest in Savannah today. His sudden death on July 6 at a young 58 makes no sense to me. Frankly, it makes me mad.
There was so much more Julian wanted to do. In addition to developing the blog about the Williams family, he had started blogging about the college application process to share the knowledge he’d gained after going through the process as a parent. He was enjoying watching his daughters, Michelle and Nicole, blossom. He was supposed to grow old with his wife, Karlene.
A professor in the department of Mass Communications at Clafin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Julian, who had bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Boston University, the University of Florida and Indiana University, respectively, was grooming a new generation of journalists and media scholars.
Before going into teaching, he held a number of prominent broadcast positions in Georgia and South Carolina, including being named the first African-American on air personality at WSAV-TV in Savannah in the 70s.
At the University of Florida, where he taught for several years, he was named Teacher of the Year by the students there in 2005.
He joined the faculty at Claflin in 2007. A popular professor among his students, he blended his real-life experience and technical knowledge with his insights into a social and historical context. An expert on mass media during the civil rights movement, he wrote about the experiences of journalists in Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina during the 1950s and 1960s.
“For the past year at Claflin University, he has been my mentor,’ Gloria Brogdon, of Orangeburg, wrote in a memorial guest book devoted to Julian’s memory. “As a first-year teacher in the Mass Communication Department at Claflin, we co-taught classes, as well as created and designed curriculum for our students. His passion for learning and teaching inspired me each time he entered the classroom. He was a gentle, caring, and professional professor, and the students in the Claflin Mass Communication Department loved him. My life will forever be changed by having known Julian, and the Williams family will forever be in my thoughts and prayers. And each time I enter a classroom, I will think of Julian and carry his inspiration for learning into the classroom,” Brogdon added.
Well done, my dear cousin. Rest in peace.