Samantha Willis

Journalist, Writer, Producer, Co-Creator of the Unmasking Series

United States

Samantha Willis is a writer and former independent journalist whose experience in digital, print and broadcast media spans 12 years. Her work has appeared in leading publications including Glamour Magazine, Essence Magazine, HuffPost Life, DownBeat Magazine, Scalawag Magazine, and the Columbia Journalism Review, and within a wide range of Virginia-based media.

In April 2021, Samantha began her role as Editorial Producer for VPM News Focal Point, a weekly statewide news show airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. Pulling from her range of media experiences, Willis contributes to the show’s journalism and helps shape its format, tone, and style.

She is also the co-creator of The Unmasking Series, an anti-racism dialogue and workshop program which has convened four times throughout the state of Virginia: #UnmaskingRVA (Richmond, 2016-17), #UnmaskingCville (Charlottesville, 2018), #UnmaskingHR (South Hampton Roads, 2019), #UnmaskingPeninsula (The Virginia Peninsula/Hampton University, 2021).

VPM News Focal Point
Black Churches of Virginia

VPM News Focal Point's Black Churches of Virginia series explores the evolving legacy of historic African American churches and celebrates the singular beauty and power of Black church culture, sharing the stories and experiences of churches, gospel artists, and leaders in Richmond, Petersburg, Hanover, Prince Edward, King & Queen, and Cumberland Counties. Produced and reported by Samantha Willis. Director of Photography, Martin Montgomery.

Style Weekly
Songs of the Spirit

One of America’s renowned poets partners with a former Jazz Messenger on a collaborative album of Black sacred songs.

Richmond Times-Dispatch
The Hughes House embodies the spirit of historic Jackson Ward, and stands as a beacon of hope for...

The Hughes family peers through time in a 1924 photograph, poised on the steps of their stately Jackson Ward residence at 508 St. James St. Dr. William Hughes - who piloted Richmond's Black community through the 1918 global influenza pandemic, and was Maggie Walker's longtime personal physician - sits self-assured, an open book in hand, his wife, Anne, nestled by his side and their daughters Grace and Helen flanking them.

Freedom wasn't given-it was seized

In 1867, grandmother Cyntha Nickols sat down to write a letter to the government for help in finding her kin: She seems to speak these words from the grave, each of them laced with longing, her tone aching with concern for her young grandson who was being kept in the clutches of the white man who had formerly owned her family.

Vinegar Hill Magazine
Still Determined: A Chance for Redemption - Vinegar Hill Magazine

Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker and Dr. Max Luna of the UVA Latino Health Initiative reflect on the virus' lasting legacy in the region, and the path forward By Samantha Willis | Photos by Lorenzo Dickerson | Artwork by Sahara Clemons Mayor Nikuyah Walker is comfortable speaking uncomfortable truths.

The Remedy: Grandma Lacey's Cornbread - Scalawag

Get Scalawag's latest stories and a run down of what's happening across the South with our weekly newsletter. When my mind and spirit are in distress-a familiar condition in this time of pandemic and deadly police violence that steadily robs Black lives-I tick off some ingredients in my head.

DownBeat Magazine
'Songs Of Our Native Daughters' Gives Ancestors Voice

When she sings certain songs, Rhiannon Giddens feels herself become an oracle. The medium her messengers speak through is music; the messengers, she says, are her ancestors long passed from the earthly plane. They are daughters of Africa-brought to this country in chains, owned by white men who enslaved them, mutilated them and put babies into their bellies only to sell them once born.

The Departed and Dismissed of Richmond

This is the first of a two-part series on the fate of the Grave Yard for Free People of Color and Slaves in Richmond, Virginia. It is dark and noisy beneath the towering pillars holding Interstate 64 over what looks like wasted space near 5th and Hospital Streets in Richmond, Virginia.
Thinking While Black

In May, when technology billionaire Robert Johnson relieved the Morehouse College class of 2019's $40 million dollars of student loan debt, the country first applauded - and then started asking questions: Why is college so expensive, and is it unfairly so?

Columbia Journalism Review
Virginia blackface scandal: Journalists share their experiences

On February 4, Virginia residents gathered outside the governor's mansion in Richmond to call for Ralph Northam's resignation. A racist image from his medical school yearbook page had surfaced on a right-wing news site. Soon, Northam and General Mark Herring, the attorney general, admitted to wearing blackface.

Richmond Free Press
Songs of redemption

For 10 days, hip-hop artist Todd "Speech" Thomas, the front man for Arrested Development, worked inside the Richmond City Justice Center helping inmates to tell their stories via music. They sang, rapped and played out their pain in music, part of a method to unearth the past and open new chapters in the lives.

Thomas Jefferson Owned Hundreds of Slaves-Now a Black Woman Will Run His Foundation

She is long dead, but the presence of Sally Hemings looms larger than life at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, the plantation where she was enslaved for most of her life and where a $35 million restoration of the grounds made way for the "Life of Sally Hemings" exhibit-a modest room tucked away in a wing of the great mansion that curators hope will encompass the story of a woman whose life and legacy was often ignored in history, lest it mar a great man's legacy.

Richmond Magazine
The Unmasking: Race & Reality in Richmond

Race is a central root of Richmond's history, entwining everything from our art to infrastructure, education to economics. Now more than ever, it's time to talk about it, frankly. Let's take off our masks, get real and move our city forward.

Jesse Matthew's charges upgraded to capital murder in death of Hannah Graham

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) - Charges against Jesse Matthew were upgraded Tuesday afternoon to Capital Murder for the death of Hannah Graham. Matthew had a pretrial hearing Tuesday. His next court appearance is June 25 at 2 p.m. Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford spoke to the media Tuesday, explaining that Jesse Matthew may now face the death penalty.

99.3-105.7 Kiss FM
It's A Book Review: The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips

Today's Favorite Book is The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips. In this turbulent novel, Phillips takes us inside the troubled life of Tangy Mae Quinn, an adolescent Black girl growing up in rural 1950s Georgia. Tangy has 9 siblings, all born of her mother, Rozelle Quinn- a harsh, paradoxical woman, who seems to care little for the people around her (including her own children).