The Black Boy Magic In Paul R. Williams

June 8, 2018

My favorite Architect of all time is Paul R. Williams. Something like Issa Rae, I am "rooting for everybody Black", but its much more than that. Here's why:


By the time he was four, he was orphaned. He didn’t let the feeling of not belonging stop him, and he didn't for the rest of his life. He was born in the late 1800’s, went to an all white elementary school, and pursued his education through various colleges and universities through his young adult years, often still the only Black face in the room. Can you imagine what he was called? We are talking 1920's, can you imagine what buildings he couldn’t even go in? What lynchings and beatings were like happening all around him? 


Despite his brilliance and perseverance, it was obvious that client's didn't want to work with him because he was a Black man. So what did he do? He learned to set himself apart by drafting architectural plans upside down so that his clients could see it right side up as he drew, like a boss. His family home that he built just sold for over 2 million dollars. His style was about creating a feeling, and bringing the outdoors in, true California living (Caliiiforniaaa Loveeee - Tupac Voice).


What I know is that as a Black creative, I never lose the feeling of needing to prove myself when I first walk through a door. Prove why i'm good enough to be here. It’s the mask we live in that says you are not good enough, and why should I give you my money or time that other people don’t have to experience. It’s important that we have examples of success in our communities, and we teach our children that they can overcome anything despite race, gender, and disability, or sexual orientation, especially in the world of interior design and architecture. Because of Paul Williams, I am forever motivated and thankful. 


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