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In Memoriam: Walter E. Williams (1936–2020)
Sad news this week: Walter E. Williams has died. The renowned economist, scholar, and commentator was eighty-four.
Prominent conservatives including Mark Levin, Senator Ted Cruz, and Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James have cited Williams’s immense influence on their lives and thought.
But Williams was not simply a public intellectual. He was a great teacher, spending the past forty years at George Mason University.
And he influenced generations of ISI students. He began lecturing for ISI back in the early 1970s, when he was a young professor at Temple University. Williams remained a favorite of students for decades, speaking at ISI conferences and to campus groups all over the country.
As a strong proponent of free markets and a fierce critic of government overreach, Williams challenged the orthodoxy in his profession and in academia at large. After one ISI-sponsored campus talk, a school administrator told Williams: “I have never seen so much ‘aftershock’ from an assembly speaker. For the rest of the day, every corner of the building was occupied by students and faculty discussing and arguing your points.”
Williams’s teachings remain as relevant as ever. In fact, in this age of exploding debt and increasingly centralized power, the lessons he imparted take on even greater urgency.
Take some time to absorb his wisdom from this talk he gave at ISI’s headquarters in 2007:
Requiescat in pace.
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