Williams Chicken founder speaking at MLK Awards Monday

From Staff Reports

Jan. 20, 2008 - The founder of a prominent and successful restaurant franchise familiar to East Texans has offered to speak at Monday night's 17th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrating the Dream Awards presentation, presented by East Caney Baptist Church.

Hiawatha Williams, who started the first Williams Chicken restaurant in Dallas 21 years ago, will be the featured speaker at the awards ceremomy, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center.

Also supporting and sponsoring the program this year is the Pan-Hellenic Council of Texas A&M University-Commerce.

This marks the 17th year the church has hosted the awards celebration named after the civil rights leader. Three years ago, the event was moved to the Hopkins County Regional Civic Center due to the large number of people in attendance.

Those selected for awards are representative of Dr. King's dream, according to East Caney Pastor M. LaVelle Hendricks.

Hiawatha Williams, 58, a native of Smithville, worked for Church's Fried Chicken while attending Paul Quinn College, working a history degree with a minor in business that he received in 1972.

In 1987, Williams opened the first Williams Chicken restaurant in Dallas. The chain now claims more than 50 stores in the franchise and more than 500 employees.

Williams sells chicken, but says he's in the people business.

"The one principal I try to keep in mind is that no matter what the service or product one offers, he or she must remember that they are in the people business first and foremost," he says.

Williams has also "adopted" three Dallas elementary schools, serves as vice president of the Elisha M. Pease Advisory Committee and is a member of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.

He recieved the 1992 "Quest for Success Award" at the annual "Quest for Success 8" awards luncheon recognizing the success and community service of outstanding black entrepreneurs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Among those scheduled to be honored with awards at Monday's presentations are:

Spiritual, Charlene Crosby; Political, Dusty Rabe; Education, Coach Greg Owens; Medical, Arlene Lewis, RN; Judicial, Judge Scott McDowell; Visionary Award, Pastor Harold B. Nash; Spirit of Loyalty, Missionary Yvonne Thornton; Humanitarian, Family Healthcare Associates; Spirit of Dependability, Glenda Brown; Social Change, W.C. Pryor; Legacy of King, Clarine Moore; Spirit of Service, Lewis McGill; Spirit of Fellowship, Kent Pate; Choice of Excellence, Wanda Allen; Pastor of the Year, Tom Frisbee; Youth of the Year, Tyrik Rollison; Texas A&M-Commerce Students of the Year, Greg Shirley, Zack Shirley, Rodney Baker, Demard Duffie, Joanna Mapps, Michael Jones, Bridgette Miles; Family of the Year, The John and Willie Harris Family; Music, Rebecca Goodson; Justice Award, Smith, McDowell and Ginn; Evangelism, Morning Chapel Evangelistic Ministry; Church of the Year, Greater Emmanuel Baptist; Encouragement, Hopkins County Military Coalition, Irene Clayton; Promise-Land Award, Cecelia Echols; Faithfulness, Broderick Godbolt; Business, Hulen Photography; Fraternity of the Year, Kappa Alpha Psi; Sorority of the Year, Delta Sigma Theta; Enterprise, Ocean Spray, Inc.; MLK Media, Doug Hasten; Employer of the Year, Verizon, Inc.; Employees of the Year, Michelle Ivery, Reba Mae Jones; King's Kids, Lawson Crook; Law Enforcement, Cody Sanders; Spirit of Dedication, Cleoria Bozeman; Kings' Wife Award, Paula Rogers; Spirit of Commitment, Alaric Williams; MLK Man of the Year; Dr. Keith McFarland; MLK Woman of the Year, Daphne Gail Ross; MLK People of the Year, Hopkins County Sheriff Posse; MLK City Award, Gale Roberts; MLK County Award, Burke Bullock.

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