William Greaves Headshot

William Greaves

William Greaves (1926–2014) was an Emmy award winning journalist and independent filmmaker. A pioneer of cinema vérité, he is best known for his cutting-edge documentaries dealing with issues of race and social justice, but he left a large and diverse body of work.

In the early 1950s, he left a successful acting career on the Broadway stage and in movies to go behind the camera and make movies that would raise awareness of the contributions made by African Americans to American and world civilization. He was Executive Producer of the groundbreaking network television series, Black Journal, which won an Emmy in 1969. His documentary films, such as From These Roots (1972), have won recognition from film critics, scholars, and educators, and have been awarded by several national and international film festivals around the world. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One, his experimental film shot in 1968, is one of 28 black films recently recommended by New York Times' film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis for Black History Month screening.

A member of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, and a lifetime member of the world renowned Actors Studio, Greaves was the recipient of many honors including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Documentary Association. Both Symbiopsychotaxiplasm and Ralph Bunche: An American Odyssey (2001) are at the Library of Congress. His papers have recently been acquired by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.