Bernard Sunley Room A-1

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      A range of flexible meeting spaces in which to host your event

      Popular accommodation in Oxford. Bed down for the night between conferences, having explored local attractions both beautiful and historic.

              Alumni Features: Dr. Eric Eustace Williams

              2 Minutes Read

              Dr. Eric Eustace Williams

              Dr. Eric Eustace Williams, born on September 25, 1911, in Trinidad and Tobago, and was a distinguished scholar and politician. Widely considered the "Father of the Nation" in his home country, his seminal contributions to both Caribbean history and the political landscape of Trinidad and Tobago mark him as a pivotal figure.

              Williams' academic journey commenced at Queen's Royal College in Port of Spain, where he excelled, paving the way for his subsequent studies at Oxford University.

              In 1932, he was awarded a scholarship to study Modern History at St. Catherine's Society, Oxford, later St Catherine's College, where he displayed exceptional academic ability. His time at Oxford culminated in a doctoral degree in 1938, with a dissertation that would later be published as his groundbreaking work, "Capitalism and Slavery."

              This book analysed the relationship between the transatlantic slave trade and the development of British capitalism, and it remains a key text in Caribbean and African studies.

              Williams briefly served as a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he developed his thinking on Caribbean history and politics. His return to Trinidad and Tobago in the mid-1950s marked the beginning of his political career. In 1956, Williams founded the People’s National Movement (PNM), which he helped transform into the dominant political force in the colony. Under his leadership, the PNM led Trinidad and Tobago to majority rule in October 1956.

              Williams' vision for a self-governing nation became a reality on August 31, 1962, when Trinidad and Tobago achieved independence from the UK. He became the nation’s first Prime Minister, a position he held until his death in 1981.

              During this time, Williams was instrumental in fostering national unity, promoting economic development, and improving education. His ideas significantly reduced unemployment and improved the standard of living.

              Among his achievements was leading the country to become a republic within the Commonwealth on August 1, 1976. Williams' administration was characterised by a pragmatic approach to foreign policy, balancing relationships with both Western and non-aligned countries. His leadership style and policies helped shape the political landscape of the newly independent nation, ensuring a new stability.

              Williams was also a prolific writer. His works continued to influence Caribbean economic and social thought. His lectures and writings provided insightful analyses of the post-colonial challenges facing developing countries. Despite controversy and criticism, his contributions and political foresight leave a lasting legacy.

              Eric passed away on March 29, 1981, but his legacy to Trinidad and Tobago and the broader Caribbean region endures. His dedication to the cause of independence and development makes him a central figure in Caribbean history, and his policies laid the groundwork for the modern state of Trinidad and Tobago. His life and work remain a beacon for scholars and politicians alike, symbolising the potential for scholarly insight to drive meaningful political change.