A Black Man's Journey to the Sons of the American Revolution
by William O. Ritchie Jr.
“From the segregated Stratton High School in Beckley, West Virginia, to the prestigious Howard University in Washington, DC, to years of law enforcement in our nation’s capital, Bill Ritchie has found himself a member of the Sons of the American Revolution. We have often asked, how? And why? Throughout his book A Black Man’s Journey to the Sons of the American Revolution, he answers these questions for us.”
William “Bill” Ritchie, a 1971 graduate, holds the distinction of being the first known NCAA All American in the history of Howard University. The seven-time All American became Howard’s first known NCAA individual champion when he was victorious in the 220-yard dash during the 1969 College Division NCAA Track and Field Championships in Ashland, Ohio. Ritchie is one of the few athletes that have been inducted twice in the Howard Sports Hall of Fame, first in 1996 as an individual and again in 2018 as a member of the 1969 and 1969 Track and Field Teams. Bill is also an alumnus of the University of the District of Columbia and George Washington University.
Upon graduation, Ritchie joined the Metropolitan Police Department, retiring in 1994 as the Chief of Detectives and former Homicide Commander in the most powerful city in the world. During his tenure, he led or participated in many major criminal investigations including the attempt assassination of President Ronald Reagan during 1981, the Air Florida Airplane crash in 1982, and the Shotgun Stalker spree murder investigation during 1993. His other commander level assignments included the Public Integrity Branch, the Organized Crime Branch, and Director of the Medical Services Division. He was the only member of the department trained to conduct investigative hypnosis sessions on victims and witnesses of crimes.
Upon retirement, he moved on to other positions, including Director, Office of Decedent Affairs at the Washington Hospital Center, Project Manager for the District of Columbia Public School’s Security Force and Director of Operations for a nationally known security company that in part serviced contracts for the US Navy and the JFK Center for the Performing Arts. He retired again in 2006. From time to time he is called upon by CNN and other national and local media to provide commentary as a Homicide Expert.
Ritchie currently has more than 65,000 DNA matches with individuals across the country and has assisted five of those matches, who were adoptees, to identify and locate their birth parents. His family history is published in “The Virginia Kaleidoscope” which is in the African American History Section in the Library of Congress and on the shelf as a source at the DAR Library in DC. Until recently, Ritchie was a member of his family’s board of directors, The Reynolds/Claytor Family Reunion Inc. He formally served as the family liaison for the Claytor Family Scholarship endowment at Washington & Lee University that was established in 1996. The endowment has awarded more than two million dollars in scholarships to deserving students. He previously served as chairman of the Mary Claytor Family Scholarship that since 2002 has awarded 47 scholarships to graduating high school seniors in the family.
With a high percentage of Cameroonian DNA, Ritchie, in 2016, was accepted as a son of Cameroon by the NW FONS Council and given the Cameroonian name of Shey during their naming ceremony. His ancestry in part includes the Fulani People of NW Cameroon.
Ritchie is currently the Senior Vice President and Public Information Officer for the District of Columbia Society Sons of the American Revolution. He was inducted into this organization on July 4, 2016, as the result of proving lineage to his 5th great grandfather, William Parks who was shot, killed and scalped by the Indians working for the British during May 1776. He has since identified and proven his ancestry to 16 additional Revolutionary War Patriots.
Between 1998 and 2006, Ritchie served as a member of the Boards of Directors for the National Kidney Foundation NCA and the Greater Washington Urban League. Bill has been married since 1974 to Alfreda Holloway Ritchie, a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Howard. They have one daughter, Arian Ritchie Joiner, son-in-law Kristopher, and three grandchildren Delant, Devin, and Destiny.
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