Billy Mills with William T. Wilkins
@ Los Angeles Public Library
Curtis, Rolland J
DescriptionRolland Joseph 'Speedy' Curtis was born in Louisiana in 1922. After serving three years in the Marines during World War II, he and his wife, Gloria, relocated from New Orleans to Los Angeles in 1946. Curtis served four years with the Los Angeles Police Department, but resigned from the force in order to pursue both a Bachelor's and Master's degree from USC. He later became involved in city politics, as an associate of Sam Yorty, and later a field deputy to City Council members Billy Mills and Tom Bradley. He was briefly director of the Model Cities program in 1973. Rolland J. Curtis died in his home in 1979, the victim of a homicide. An affordable housing complex on Exposition Blvd. near Vermont Ave. was named in his honor in 1981, along with a nearby street and park.; Photograph included in the Exhibit: Firsts, Seconds and Thirds: African American Leaders in Los Angeles During the 1960s and '70s from the Rolland J. Curtis Collection.William T. Wilkins opened the first interracial piano school in the city of Los Angeles in 1912, known as the Wilkins Piano Academy. Though Wilkins was taught to play musical instruments at a young age, his father intended him to become a tinsmith and mechanic. While Wilkins became the first African American to be employed at the Edison Light and Power Company, he continued to pursue his dream, mowing lawns for 6 years to pay for advanced piano classes. He eventually received a certificate of completion along...
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