“It is important to see what has been accomplished in order to ensure a better future for our community. Our continued success and growth will only help enrich and strengthen our already diverse heritage and culture.” – Rev. Charles Williams
Rev. Charles Williams was the President of Indiana Black Expo, Inc. (IBE) from 1983 to 2004. He was responsible for the restructuring of IBE, including the total reduction of a $106,000 deficit, the gross revenues of the organization doubling, organizing and securing funding for full-time staff, development of year-round programs that promote harmony among people of all races and instrumental in the IBE Summer Celebration being named one of the “Top 100 Events in North America” by the American Business Association. He was the founder of the Circle City Classic, a Black collegiate football game, which is held annually with revenues going to scholarships, exceeding $800,000 since 1983.
From 1976 to 1983, Rev. Williams was the Special Assistant to the Mayor of the City of Indianapolis. In this position, he coordinated community relations which included the creation and organization of the first city-wide Black History Month celebration. Additionally, he served as the chairman of PUSH for Excellence Month, where over 5,000 high school students pledged to push for excellence in their school work and assisted in making Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday a legal holiday in the city of Indianapolis. He also played an influential role in the selection of the first Black deputy mayor in the city’s history and organized the promotion of the First Annual Indianapolis Jazz Festival held in 1980 with proceeds going to the Indianapolis Urban League and the Indianapolis Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC).
Charles Williams was ordained as a minister in 1979 after which he became affiliated with several organizations and clubs such as: the Indiana Sports Corporation Board, the Indianapolis Downtown Promotion Council Board, the Indiana Convention and Visitor’s Association, the Indiana Christian Leadership Conference, the Winona Hospital Board of Directors in Indianapolis, the Indianapolis White River State Park Development Commission and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee. Rev. Williams was also the chaplain for the Indiana Pacers Basketball Corporation and a member of the Board of the Directors for the Pacers Foundation, Inc.
As a man who was committed to serving his community, Rev. Williams received many awards, most notable being : the Indiana Jefferson Award, Indianapolis Education Association’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, the state of Indiana’s most prestigious award, The Sagamore of the Wabash, Outstanding Past and Future Leadership Award presented by Senator Dan Quayle, Outstanding Citizen Award presented by the NAACP’s Life Membership Committee, Meritorious Service Award, Boys Club Association of Indianapolis, Wheeler Boys Club, Toastmaster International Award, Distinguished Service Award presented by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, Presidential Citation presented by the National Business League, Good Scout Award presented by Jack “The Rapper” and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letter by Martin University in 1997. The culmination came in 2001 when he received a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Martin University[m1] .
Rev. Charles Williams was a vital asset to the state of Indiana and African Americans nationwide. Until his death in July 2004, he served as an effective voice and leader in the fight for social and economic advancement of African Americans.