"…history [is] not a record of battles and politicians, dates and events, or even of the follies and foibles of mankind, but rather a record of the development of humanity, of life and of society, in all their various manifestations"
Eric Williams, Inward Hunger: The Education of a Prime Minister (1969), pg. 42
A scholar and statesman, the Honorable Dr. Eric Eustace Williams (1911-1981) led Trinidad and Tobago for over a quarter of a century. He oversaw the country’s independence from Britain in 1962 and 1976 transition to a Republic. Williams served as Prime Minister until his death in 1981. In addition to his distinguished record of public service, Williams authored landmark studies such as Capitalism and Slavery (1944), History of the People of Trinidad and Tobago (1962), and From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean, 1492-1969 (1971).
In 2021, The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at UT Austin became the host of the Eric Williams Memorial Lecture. Established at Florida International University (FIU) in 1999, the series honors the late Dr. Eric Williams by providing space to discuss current issues relating to the Caribbean and African Diaspora. Launched with historian Dr. John Hope Franklin as its inaugural speaker, the lecture series featured an array of guests—artists, activists, elected officials, and scholars—for nineteen years at FIU. The series now has a new home with the generous support of co-founders Erica Williams Connell and Dr. Carole Boyce-Davies in collaboration with UT Austin faculty and Warfield Center affiliates Drs. Lorraine Leu and Minkah Makalani. Daughter of the series’ namesake, Williams Connell is the founding curator of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection Research Library, Archives & Museum at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad and Tobago. Boyce-Davies was a professor of African Diaspora Studies and English at FIU and is currently Frank H. T. Rhodes Professor of Humane Letters in the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Africana Studies and English at Cornell University.
This exhibition is made possible by the Eric Williams Memorial Collection Research Library, Archives & Museum at The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, and the staff of the Alma Jordan Library at The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.
Pictured above: “25 Years: A Quarter Century of Service” Eric Williams, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Photograph by Noel Norton.