September 25, 2023

Circle City Classic founder honored with new park

The Rev Charles Williams Park ribbon cutting. (Jill Sheridan WFYI)

The Rev Charles Williams Park ribbon cutting. (Jill Sheridan WFYI)

The man who founded the Circle City Classic has been honored by a new park named for him.  Rev. Charles R. Williams is remembered as a significant civic and faith leader.

The first Classic was held at the Hoosier Dome in 1984. The football game featured two teams from historically Black colleges.  The event quickly became a cornerstone for the Indiana Black Expo. 

In the 80s the organization grew, led by Williams and other Black residents who pushed to improve and include Black culture, health and quality of life in Indianapolis.

A new park remembering his work was opened in Indianapolis this week. The Rev. Charles R. Williams Park is on the near northside of Indianapolis, along the banks of Fall Creek.

Friends, family and city leaders attended the celebration.

City-County Council member William “Duke” Oliver said Williams did so much for the Black community.

“I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the legacy of Reverend Charles Williams – his work with Black Expo, the city of Indianapolis and local faith organizations touched so many lives,” Oliver said.

Community leader Phyllis Carr worked for years with other residents to get the park completed. It’s funded with $2.6 million in city and grant funding. Carr said Williams and others have pushed for change.

“We organized and stayed together as a family and came to an agreeable conclusion about what was best for our organization at that time,” Carr said.

A new quarter mile trail also connects the park to the Monon Trail.

Wiliams worked in Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut’s administration and was the first paid president of the Indiana Black Expo.

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