Eddie N. Williams, the long-time president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, and former administrator at the University of Chicago, died on May 8 in Bethesda, Maryland, from complications relating to pneumonia. He was 84 years old.
Williams was a native of Memphis, Tennessee. After graduating from the University of Illinois, he joined the Army and then worked as a reporter for the Atlanta Daily World. Williams came to Washington to work as a protocol officer for the U.S. State Department. He later worked on the Senate staffs of Hubert H. Humphrey and Edward M. Kennedy.
In 1968, Williams was appointed director of the Center for Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. He was later named vice president for public affairs at the university.
In 1972, Williams was named director of what was then the Joint Center for Political Studies. He made the think-tank into a leading voice of economic and political issues facing Black America. He retired as director in 2004.
Barbara Johnson, the current chair of the Joint Center, stated that “Eddie Williams built an institution that helped a generation of Black leaders move from activism into governance, and that informed and inspired a generation of scholars committed to using ideas to change real lives.”