Reverend Charles R. Williams Memorial Way Unveiled

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During the 53rd Annual Summer Celebration the city of Indianapolis did a very good thing for the community and for one of its Hoosiers that have brought many people from around the United States to this great city. 
 
Indiana Black Expo (www.indianablackexpo.com) announced today that the City of Indianapolis will unveil the Reverend Charles R. Williams Memorial Way on Friday, June 28th at 9:00 AM as part of a special ceremony at the Georgia Street entrance of the Indiana Convention Center. This ceremony is free and open to the public.
 
Reverend Charles Williams served as an effective voice and vehicle for the social and economic advancement of African Americans in the state of Indiana. “Reverend Williams dedicated his life to service and was a valiant stalwart of racial equality and civil rights for disadvantaged people,” said IBE President Alice Watson. “He championed social and economic prosperity and he empowered and galvanized the community through every initiative that he led and touched. Reverend Williams was a vital asset to our state and the Reverend Charles R. Williams Memorial Way is a way to remember his enormous footprint and legacy,” added Watson.
 
In 1976, Reverend Williams served as the Special Assistant to Mayor of the City of Indianapolis William Hudnut where he coordinated the City’s community relations efforts. He resigned in 1980 and became the first paid president of Indiana Black Expo. He served as IBE’s president for 21 years until he passed away on July 12, 2004, at age 56. Reverend Williams was instrumental in bringing IBE from a volunteer-based organization to one of the most notable businesses in the city and state. Under his guidance, funders were secured to employ full-time staff and gross revenues doubled. He led IBE to develop year-round youth and family programs.
 
At the end of 2003, IBE grew to 10 chapters across Indiana and had $2.06 million in assets with annual revenues of $5.97 million. One of Williams’ achievements was the creation of the annual Circle City Classic in 1984. Circle City Classic is an annual collegiate football game that showcases Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Midwest. To date, the Circle City Classic Scholarship Fund has provided more than $5.1 million in scholarships to Indiana students to attend college. Reverend Williams was instrumental in showcasing Black culture through Indiana Black Expo events in Indianapolis to hundreds of thousands of people across the world. To date, his vision and impact has resulted in more than a billion dollars in economic impact to the city of Indianapolis.
 
Reverend Williams’ impact and reach extends beyond IBE. His life’s work has touched, developed and grown numerous small minority businesses throughout the state of Indiana. Reverend Williams was an ordained minister, community advocate, and trusted advisor and charismatic leader that served on several boards of organizations across the state of Indiana. He helped create the first Indianapolis Jazz Festival that earmarked proceeds for the Indianapolis Urban League and the Indianapolis Opportunities Industrialization Center. He was the first chaplain for the Indiana Pacers Basketball Corporation and a charter board member of the Pacers Foundation. While in that capacity, Reverend Williams played an instrumental role in the creation of the Landmark for Peace Memorial in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park. Reverend Williams has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his lifetime, including the Sagamore of the Wabash, the Distinguished Service Award presented by the Publishers Association, the Living Legends in Black Award, and the Congressional Lifetime Achievement Award. He has been featured nationally in Ebony and JET Magazines, the Phil Donahue Show, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Martin Center College of Religious Studies and honorary Doctorate of Community Service and Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Christian Theological Seminary.
 
“We are honored to recognize Reverend Charles R. Williams with this memorial way,” said City-County Council President Vop Osili. “His relentless dedication to community empowerment, social justice, and economic progress has left an indelible mark on Indianapolis. Reverend Williams’ legacy continues to inspire and uplift our city, and this memorial will stand as a testament to his extraordinary contributions and impact.”
 
For information about the special ceremony unveiling for the Reverend Charles R. Williams Memorial Way on Friday, June 28th, contact Cara Holdsclaw at choldsclaw@indianablackexpo.com

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