Upland, CA — I moved to Los Angeles in 1979 from Riverside to attend the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). During those days Riverside was considered a small town. Moving to the big city, I was excited, and I could not wait to see what my future held. One of those exciting moments was in the early days of my career after college, I was doing event planning and community relations and a lady by the name of Karen Elyse Hudson hired me to do some consulting for her and Broadway Federal Bank. Working with her introduced me to a whole new world and the history of Black history Los Angeles. Over the years, I have learned when we are open to what God has planned for us in our life, we have no idea where God will take us. Karen became not only a mentor for me, but also a trusted friend. I am truly grateful how she has sown positive seeds into my life over the years.
One of the things I learned from Karen was the rich and deep history her family had not only in Black Los Angeles, but throughout Los Angeles, and across the world. One of her grandfathers, Paul Revere Williams, was an amazing man with a gift for architecture and vision. He played a role in many of the homes and buildings across Los Angeles such as the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel, First African Methodist Episcopal Church, Second Baptist Church, Broadway Federal Bank, and various homes of celebrities such as Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, and Frank Sinatra. His style left an imprint everywhere he touched.
On October 11th the family of Paul R. Williams and others will come together at the famed Beverly Hills Hotel to celebrate not only his work, but also to launch the Paul R. Williams Scholarship and Education Fund. The Fund was created to inspire, support, and celebrate young people pursuing careers in architecture. Our own Wren Brown will serve as the emcee, and he will take guests on a journey down Central Avenue in the 1940’s based on the years when Paul R. Williams worked along the avenue. Jazz singer Nnenna Freelon the widow of Phil Freelon will be present to accept the first PRW award posthumously. I am looking forward to such an occasion.
Mr. Williams was born in 1894 in Los Angeles. Due to racism and segregation in his early years he faced many challenges during his career, including having to learn to do his renderings upside down because as a Black man he was not allowed to stand side by side with his white clients. Mr. Williams became a certified architect in California in 1921 and the first certified African American architect west of the Mississippi. In 1923 he became the first African American member of the American Institute of Architects. What a legacy!
Paul Williams legacy is left in the hands of his family. Together their desire is to make sure his work will continue to live on for future generations and for those who aspire to be in the field of architecture, no matter what obstacles they may face or where they come from. Although I never got the chance to meet him, I have met his grandchildren, and they continue to make their mark on our community and the world. All of us can play our part in touching the next generation and encouraging them to become the best they desire no matter what their endeavor. In the words of Paul R. Williams, “Planning is thinking beforehand how something is to be made or done and mixing imagination with the product…which in a broad sense makes all of us planners.” As an event planner, I can truly relate to his thinking. Thank you, Mr. Williams, for making our world a lovelier place.
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Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker.