Oral Histories

Interview of Harold L. Williams

African American architect who designed government buildings, schools, homes, and civic centers, including Compton City Hall, South Central Los Angeles Multi-service and Child Development Center, and Compton Civic Center.
African-American Architects of Los Angeles: Harold L. Williams
African American Architects of Los Angeles
African American History
Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Design
Henderson, Wesley H.
Williams, Harold L.
Persons Present:
Williams and Henderson.
Place Conducted:
Williams's home in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Wesley Henderson, B.S., Art & Design, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Master of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D., Architecture, UCLA. Henderson prepared for the interview by having a pre-interview with Williams, interviewing his associates, and relying on the background research for his UCLA doctoral dissertation, "Two Case Studies of African American Architects' Careers in Los Angeles, 1890-1945: Paul R. Williams, FAIA, and James H. Garrott, AIA."
Processing of Interview:
Alex Cline, editor, edited the interview. He checked the verbatim transcript of the interview against the original tape recordings, edited for punctuation, paragraphing, and spelling, and verified proper names. Words and phrases inserted by the editor have been bracketed. Williams reviewed the transcript. He verified proper names and made minor corrections and additions. Steven J. Novak, editor, prepared the table of contents and index. Rebecca Stone, editorial assistant, prepared the biographical summary and interview history.
7.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
This project documents the work of selected African American architects who have enhanced the built environment, principally in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Influenced by earlier pioneers such as Paul R. Williams, these individuals overcame bias and discrimination to create structures which have become emblematic of the uniqueness of local architecture.
Childhood in Cincinnati; serves in United States Navy; encounters racism; relations between African Americans and Jews; attends Talladega College and Miami University; decides to become an architect; discrimination faced by African American architects; works with Paul R. Williams and other architects; joins the firm of Orr, Strange, and Inslee; founds Kinsey, Meeds, and Williams, Architects and City Planners; awarded projects by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development; projects for the Los Angeles Unified School District; Compton City Hall, Compton Civic Center, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza; National Organization of Minority Architects; the Committee to Save Simon Rodia's Towers in Watts; encouraging minority architects.