AUSTIN, Texas – The Eric Williams Memorial Lecture (EWML) has moved from Florida International University to its new home at the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies at The University of Texas, Austin.

Founded in 1999, the series honors the late Dr. Eric Williams (1911-1981), was a scholar, and statesman. He was also the Head of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago from 1956 until his death in 1981.

Dr. Eric Williams Books

Among other books, Williams authored Capitalism and Slavery (1944).  The landmark study that has been translated into nine languages: Chinese, Japanese, Russian Korean and Turkish, among them. Additionally, a tenth, Dutch, is currently in process. The University of North Carolina Press edition of Capitalism and Slavery, Colin Palmer, late of Princeton University, describes the book as “a work of conceptual brilliance, intellectually mature, bold, incisive, and immensely provocative”… In a similar vein, Duke University professor William Darity has argued that, with Capitalism and Slavery, Williams “managed to produce a work that now has to be considered central in the historiography of slavery and abolition.”

In November 2019, the International Museum of Slavery in Liverpool, England, celebrated the work’s 75th anniversary. It included an international conference co-sponsored by the University of Liverpool and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

The University of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago also commemorated the occasion with its own Symposium.

Eric Williams Memorial Lecture Series

The Eric Williams Memorial Lecture continues in this legacy by hosting conversations about global activism and culture from Williams’ time to the present. The digital series invites past lecturers to reflect on Eric Williams’ legacy.

The first, on April 9, 2021 and ongoing, was a prerecorded conversation between Erica Williams-Connell, series co-founder and daughter of its namesake, and Dr. Arnold Rampersad, Sara Hart Kimball Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, Stanford University.

Williams-Connell is also the founding curator of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection Research Library, Archives & Museum at the University of The West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.

The following weeks present interviews with EWML co-founder Dr. Carole Boyce-Davies, 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 (April 16); Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (April 23); and Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool, Senior Academic Fellow at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and noted calypsonian (April 30).

Each video is posted to the Warfield Center website at 1 PM EST/AST (12 PM CST) on the specific release day. From that point on, they are free and accessible to all interested viewers. The interviews are accompanied by a digital exhibition. Celebrating Eric Williams, co-coordinated between the Eric Williams Memorial Collection and UT’s Black Diaspora Archive. It was mounted by UT’s Black Diaspora Archivist Rachel Winston. Exhibition materials will be available in English and Spanish.

Why the Move to UT Austin

The EWML has moved to UT Austin with the generous support of Williams-Connell and Boyce-Davies, in collaboration with Warfield Center affiliates Drs. Lorraine Leu and Minkah Makalani. The Warfield Center looks forward to building on the series’ illustrious history, which began with historian Dr. John Hope Franklin and continued with a roster of noted artistes, activists, elected officials, and scholars from across the African Diaspora.

The introduction of this series continues the mission of The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies as the arts, culture, and programming division of the larger Black Studies community at the University of Texas at Austin.