Samantha Willis is a journalist and Richmond native whose research and writing centers largely on African American history and culture. Among the articles and essays she writes for a variety of publications, three of her recent features — on Richmond's historic black neighborhood, Jackson Ward; the hurtful history of blackface; and Central Virginia’s rich legacy of gospel music — won Virginia Press Association awards. Based on months of research and first-person interviews, Samantha presented a paper about Richmond-born civil rights advocate James E. Jackson at the 101st conference of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in 2016.
An outspoken advocate for equality, Samantha is the creator of #UnmaskingRVA, a three-part forum and learning series examining Richmond's racial history and present reality.
Samantha lives in Ruther Glen, Virginia, with her husband Jamaal and son David, and expects a new baby in January.