City of Dallas Recreation Center Renamed for Dallas Businessman Hiawatha Williams

by Toska Medlock Lee

Cummings Recreation Center is now the Hiawatha Williams Recreation Center. Earlier this year, the Dallas Park and Recreation Board voted to rename the Oak Cliff center to honor the Dallas businessman who founded Williams Chicken. More than thirty-five years ago, the first Williams Chicken opened at the intersection of Ledbetter and Sunnyvale streets in Oak Cliff.



 If you look up the definition of corporate social responsibility or corporate philanthropy, you can no doubt insert Williams Chicken.  As a leader and one of the largest franchisors in the nation, Founder and CEO Hiawatha Williams built an empire on giving back to the community.

The well deserving accolade was evident by the hundreds of business and community leaders, elected officials and others who showed up to congratulate Williams at the unveiling event held last month. Many in attendance said the renaming of this Recreation Center is lift giving for the community.

As Williams witnessed the tarp dropping to reveal the new name with hundreds of colleagues and family members present, he humbly said that this center was for the future generation to come and that his commitment will always remain to the community that bears this zip code.

Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Carolyn King-Arnold and Park Board Representative Harrison Blair were on hand to tout the accomplishments and commitment of Williams.  The event included presentations, letters of congratulations and proclamations from State Representative Toni Rose, State Representative Carl Sherman, Mayor Eric Johnson, Commissioner John Wiley Price, Rev. Richie Butler of St. Luke “Community” UMC and fellow Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Roland Parrish.

The event culminated with Williams hosting a luncheon to express his sincere gratitude that included a great meal by The Date Catering and live music by the Herbie Johnson Quartet. “I could not have done any of this if it weren’t for the support of my wife, family and community. I never take for granted the support of the people who I work with, our franchise partners, business community and especially our customers.”

Declared as one of his greatest honors, Williams reiterated his commitment to the community starting with a plan to have deeper engagement with the local schools in the area to help yield greater change and outcomes.

“Our educators, students and parents need to see that the community cares and that there is nothing too hard for God,” he said.

“We are dedicated to serve, grow and give back to the community,” said Tim Williams, Director of Operations.  Doing our part to grow people, grow community, grow youth, children and families – that is what we do…Fried Chicken is just the vehicle to do it.”

The first official event to be held at the Hiawatha Williams Recreation Center was the Williams Chicken Partners in Education Foundation annual Change for Change Community Christmas Party!  Because of partners like Parrish Charitable Foundation, Canales Furniture, Dallas Mavericks, UTA Crossroads, Derrick James Family Foundation, Starbucks, Vistra Corp/TXU, State Representative Carl Sherman, Mint Dentistry, Coca-Cola, Palladium USA, and all our volunteers, we served more than 500 families from the community and non-profits like the YMCA Westmoreland and Prison Fellowship Angel Tree.

“I can’t thank each of you enough for supporting Williams Chicken and God willing, we will do more in 2023,” Williams said.


About Williams Chicken
Williams Chicken serves North Texas with nearly 50 locations.  It opened its first location in the state of Arkansas last year and has plans to franchise in the Chicago area.  Known as
the beloved chicken spot for the community, Williams Chicken is dedicated to serve, grow and give back to the community.

About Williams Chicken Partners in Education
Williams Chicken Partners in Education program is a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to transform the lives of families and children through partnerships that will enrich through education and community development.

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