P.O. Box 561631, Miami, Fl 33256-1631, USA*Tel: 305-271-7246*Cell: 305-905-9999*Fax: 305-271-4160
29 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH, ERIC WILLIAMS MEMORIAL COLLECTION
CELEBRATES 12TH ANNIVERSARY
"Thank you very much for treasuring what is really ours." Erica Williams Connell
Kimberley Correia, Trinidad & Tobago student 305-905-9999
PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD (March 19, 2010) March 22, 2010 will usher in the twelfth
anniversary of the inauguration of The Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC) at The University
of the West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago, by US Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell. Dr. Williams,
the country's first Prime Minister who died in office on March 29, 1981, was heralded by Mr. Powell:
"No one was a greater fighter for justice and equality. No one was a greater leader." More recently in
2009, Dr. Williams was honoured as scholar, politician and international statesman when former South
African President Thabo Mbeki wrote the Foreword to the University of South Africa Press' first
publication of Williams' seminal work, Capitalism and Slavery.
The Collection consists of Williams' Research Library, Archives and Museum. In 1999, it was
named to UNESCO's prestigious Memory of the World Register. At the time, the documentary
heritage of only 47 other countries had been so designated. Available for consultation by researchers,
the Collection amply reflects its owner's eclectic interests, comprising some 7,000 volumes, as well as
correspondence, speeches, manuscripts, historical writings, research notes, conference documents and a
miscellany of reports. A Museum containing a wealth of emotive memorabilia of the period; copies
of the seven translations of Capitalism and Slavery (Russian, Chinese and Japanese among them) -
Korean, Hindi and Urdu translations are in process; as well as photographs depicting various aspects of
his life and contribution to the development of Trinidad and Tobago completes this extraordinarily
rich archive, as does a three-dimensional re-creation of Dr. Williams' study.
"Those who labored in the organizational, financial and other vineyards to create the Collection
have provided a unique intellectual gift, not just to Trinidad and Tobago..." states Professor Ivelaw
Griffith, former Dean of Florida International University's Honors College. To date, four biographies
of Williams either have been published or are in progress one dedicated to the EWMC. In the prior
seventeen years, nothing of note was written.
In addition to its physical repository of materials, The Eric Williams Memorial Collection has
initiated a biennial Essay Competition encompassing 178 schools in 17 Caribbean countries; instituted
the first Caribbean Examinations Council CAPE Prize in History; organized an annual Lectureship at
Florida International University (now in its twelfth consecutive year), in addition to collaborating with
the Mayor of London in his 2007 Slave Trade Bicentenary Lecture Series, dedicated to Williams;
partnered with the University of Sheffield (UK) in an annual one-day seminar for Caribbean Masters
and Doctoral students; made inroads into Miami-Dade's (US) student population of some 414,128 with
the inclusion of Eric Williams in the County's State-mandated African American curriculum;
sponsored four international conferences on Williams (a fifth is presently being organized at Oxford
University, in honour of the 2011 Centenary of his birth). Other Centenary projects are: the Cuban
publication of two of Williams' books in Spanish (including details of his many contacts with Cuban
scholars and several visits to the country in the 1940's and again in 1975); Trinidad and Tobago
- more -
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schools Stamp Design and Performing Arts competitions (co-sponsored by the Trinidad and Tobago
Postal Corporation and UNESCO respectively); and the publication of Williams' dissertation, from
which emanated Capitalism and Slavery. The EWMC has also hosted numerous conference panels -
with many of their proceedings published; lectured to interested groups and students about Williams
and the Collection; received multiple awards and recognition for its efforts; introduced an Oral History
Project which includes well over 150 calypsoes either sung about Williams or mentioning his name -
calypso in the Caribbean being the art of social commentary; facilitated Encyclopedia entries on
Williams; and actively promoted the re-publication of Williams' books many of them translations
long out of print. Several international book launches have been arranged by the EWMC. In addition,
the Collection has been the subject of many academic papers, lectures and books, and has been actively
involved in supplying and being prominently featured in collateral materials for a 'walking tour' -
Black Oxford: Untold Stories encompassing vignettes of the Black scholars who have contributed to
Oxford University's academic reputation. In the future, the Collection will team up with Williams'
alma mater at Oxford University establishing a scholarship in his name in perpetuity.
All of these efforts have been amply promoted in the local, regional and international media -
from London's British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and the British Virgin Islands Island Sun to
the Organization of American States' Americas magazine in both English and Spanish.
Thus, with all of its other endeavours, the EWMC is a model for the Caribbean, a means of
demonstrating to its younger generation the vital connection to the past what that means for both the
present and for the future. When the University College of the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands' H.
Lavity Stoutt Community College and the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, along with the latter's
UK consultants, sought pointers in the creation of their own museums, it was to The Eric Williams
Memorial Collection they came visiting several times.
Guests of the EWMC Museum continue to be inspired by their experience, as were the Vice
President of India; the Prime Minister and former Prime Minister of St. Vincent/Grenadines and
Jamaica respectively; former Mayor of New York City Rudolph Giuliani, Commonwealth
Secretary General, Prime Minister of Tonga, and two Nobel Laureates. Thousands of Trinidad and
Tobago students along with schools/universities from Barbados; Guadeloupe (including the Chamber
of Commerce); Martinique; St. Lucia; Suriname; US Virgin Islands; Mauritius; UK; US have toured
the facility since its inception. While a mere 20 schools visited in 2001, this figure had jumped to 79
within two years. And the young continue to demonstrate their profound comprehension as they speak,
following, to what the Collection means to the population at large and, as important, what it will mean
to future sons and daughters of Trinidad and Tobago, in particular, and of the Caribbean, indeed the
world, in general.
"A deep sense of awe and respect, pride, descends upon me in this place. A remarkable
collection. Romaine Vularoel
"Without a past, how can we look towards the future. This establishment is amazing!"
Nicola Whitley, Student, Trinidad and Tobago
"An inspiring experience. Propels one to soar to highest high. Sophia Almorales,
Student, Trinidad and Tobago
The EWMC is about teaching, research, and community service.
"What we research, is what we teach, is how we can give back."
Professor Jane Brown, University of North Carolina, U.S.