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Commentary By Reihan Salam

In Memoriam: Walter E. Williams

The Manhattan Institute mourns the passing of Walter E. Williams.

Williams, raised in poverty in a single-parent home, was a trailblazing economist whom we are honored to have known and worked with over the years. The Manhattan Institute facilitated the publication of Williams’ first book, The State Against Blacks, which was turned into the much-discussed PBS documentary, “Good Intentions.”

An early and sometimes lonely critic of the War on Poverty, Williams inspired a generation of future economists and public intellectuals during his 40-year career at George Mason University's Department of Economics. Through academic papers as well as popular commentary, Williams broke through the noise to bring data-driven critical analysis to issues ranging from school choice, the corruption of social norms, and the morality of the free market. He and his contribution to the public discourse will be greatly missed but his work will live on through all those he has influenced.