One of the foremost intellectual public figures and American economists was lost on Wednesday. Walter E. Williams died shortly after teaching his final class at George Mason University. He was 84.
Williams spent over five decades working at the University in the department of Economics as a distinguished Professor. He grew up in Philadelphia to an impoverished family and used his experiences in life to earn a doctorate in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1972. It was in Southern California where he started to challenge those around him to “look beneath surface phenomena for deeper causes and consequences” of racial inequality. Williams went to great lengths to show his theories on a wide scale.
In 1982, he wrote “The State Against Blacks,” which was a controversial examination of laws that hindered the advancement of African-Americans in the United States. Williams argued that while “bigotry and discrimination may be a partial explanation for the condition of many blacks in America, they are not the only, or the most important, reasons why many blacks are behind. Instead, he shows, a myriad of local, state, and federal laws systematically impede economic and social progress for minorities in America” As an economist, it was well-known that Williams opposed the Federal Reserve and deemed central banks as “dangerous.”
Williams’s commentary was respected by many internationally. Out of his 10 books and the hundreds of journalistic publications he wrote as a syndicated columnist and author, the Dr. leaves behind a well-documented legacy marked by often going against popular ideas or thoughts. His final article published on the date of his death addressed miseducation of black students across the nation.
“If we accept the notion that rotten education is not preordained, then I wonder when the black community will demand an end to an educational environment that condemns so many youngsters to mediocrity,” Williams wrote. “You can bet the rent money that white liberals and high-income blacks would not begin to accept the kind of education for their children that most blacks receive.”
William’s work went far beyond the classroom or anything he put into words. The Dr. was often a fill-in host for Rush Limbaugh on his nationally-syndicated radio show throughout the years. Williams enjoyed the opportunity to present his perspective to the millions of people listening across the airwaves of Rush’s 600+ radio affiliates.
In 2009, Greg Ransom, a writer for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, ranked Williams as the third-most important “Hayekian” Public Intellectual in America, behind only Gastonia, N.C. native Thomas Sowell and television personality John Stossel.