In Memoriam: Albert James Williams-Myers, 1939-2021

A.J. William-Myers, professor emerita of African American studies at the State University of New York-New Paltz, died at his home in New Paltz on July 12. He was 82 years old.

The college said in a statement that Williams-Myers was “a dedicated educator who touched hundreds of students’ lives over more than 36 years.” He retired from teaching in 2016. A year later, a library in Kingston, New York, focusing on African American studies was named in his honor. The library is stocked with books and other learning materials focusing on the roots of African and African-American history and culture.

Dr. Williams-Myers, who earned a Ph.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles, served as director of the New York African American Institute. He was a member of the New York State Freedom Trail Commission and a historian for the African Burial Ground Interpretive Center in New York City. Professor William-Myers was the author of several books including On the Morning Tide: African Americans, History & Methodology in the Historical Ebb & Flow of Hudson River Society (Africa World Press, 2001).

SUNY New Paltz President Donald P. Christian said in a statement: “As a teacher and productive and engaged scholar, A.J. was well known for his ability to awaken students to think about history and the lives of people who lived in other times, and what that has to do with his students’ own lives and understanding of who they are. He was particularly adept at helping his students and others understand the historical roots of deeply seated racism in America. He helped his students understand the slave trade and how it and its legacy have played out in the Hudson Valley and in other parts of the northern United States.”

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