Editor’s note: Greater Union Life Center in DeLand is sponsoring Black History Month 2021 banners honoring 16 individuals who have made a positive impact on the city of DeLand, and Volusia County. The banners have been installed along Woodland Boulevard in Downtown DeLand, and The Beacon is compiling profiles of the individuals.
Reginald Williams — Past MLK Committee chairman, community advocate
Reginald Williams, a longtime DeLandite by way of DeLeon Springs, has been involved in community advocacy for decades.
Williams spent more than 20 years working with Volusia County as a management director, among other roles. He worked in several county departments and oversaw a number of projects, including Spring Hill Park in southwest DeLand and renovations to the Chisholm Community Center.
Being able to walk around the city of DeLand and see the fruition of projects he was involved in, Williams said, gives him “a sense of satisfaction.”
After leaving the county, Williams worked in a number of advocacy roles for children in local government, including the Department of Children and Families, as well as Child Protective Services.
For nearly 15 years, Williams also served as the chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Committee. As chair, he helped establish the now annual tradition of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade down Woodland Boulevard, as well as the naming of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Beltway in east DeLand after the civil rights leader.
Being involved in the naming of the road, Williams said, is one of his proudest achievements.
“When I ride along the beltway and see all the developments, like Victoria Park and the apartments, I think ‘wow, what an achievement,’” he said. “What recognition this community has when it comes to honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Future growth will always be along that beltway.”
Now retired, Williams still has plenty to do.
“I’ve done a little bit of everything,” he said. “There’s still things that I’m involved in that keep me busy.”
Williams serves as pastor of Emmanuel Christian Ministries Inc., as well as serving as chairman of the board overseeing the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand.
He continues his advocacy for children in working with the Community Partnership for Children, an organization that connects people to resources for abused and neglected children.
Black History Month, he said, is a great time of year to acknowledge some of the lesser-known people at the forefront of Black history. He is glad the city of DeLand recognizes members of the Black community along Woodland Boulevard — but, he said, Black history is more than just a month of celebration.
“Growing up as a Black individual, we always looked to Black History Month for recognition. It gave us an opportunity to learn and discuss those issues that otherwise may have been overlooked or bypassed. That’s important,” Williams said. “We talk about Black History Month, but Black history is American history. We helped to make this country what it is.”