REO volunteer Linda Williams has been named a Diversity Scholar by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Diversity Scholarship Program (DSP) supports leaders from underrepresented communities new to preservation and emerging preservation professionals to attend PastForward, the National Trust’s annual conference. DSP participants receive financial assistance in the form of complimentary registration and lodging. This year’s conference is November 15-18 in Houston.
One of two tour guides for REO’s North 24th Street Walking Tour, Linda has conducted extensive research on the history, architecture and architects of the area, and shares her findings with the hundreds of people who take the tour each year. She has presented seminars on Clarence “Cap” Wigington, Nebraska’s first black architect.
Linda was also instrumental in helping save the building that housed the Great Plains Black History Museum. Designed by prominent Nebraska architect Thomas Kimball for the Nebraska Telephone Company in 1907, the building has a rich civil rights history. Whitney Young, who went on to prominence with the National Urban League, kept his offices there in the early 1950s.
During the 1960s, the building was headquarters for Greater Omaha Community Action. In 1975, James and Bertha Calloway purchased the building for use as a museum dedicated to the history of African Americans. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 in recognition of its architectural and historic significance. It was designated a landmark by the City of Omaha in 1980.
“I’m so thankful Linda is part of our team,” REO Executive Director Kristine Gerber said in recommending her to the National Trust’s Advocacy Committee. “Linda is the organization’s eyes and ears of what’s happening in the North Omaha area,” Gerber noted. “I know the conference would continue to educate and motivate her to become a stronger advocate for our group and preservation throughout the area.”