Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Eddie Williams Receives Great Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Award

by George Farrell
BlakPac Chair

At a reception yesterday, former president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Eddie N. Williams will receive the organization’s highest award—The Louis E. Martin Great American Award.
The award is named after Louis E. Martin (1912-1997), a principal founder of the Joint Center and the first chair of its Board.

In 1972, while working as Vice President of Public Affairs at the University of Chicago, Mr. Williams was recruited to lead the Joint Center. The organization had been founded just two years earlier to support the hundreds of new black elected officials who came into office in the aftermath of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Over the next three decades, Mr. Williams built the Joint Center into the core of black political thought and research. He hosted black elected officials every four years to assemble policy priorities to share with presidential candidates and transition teams. The Joint Center founded or co-founded the National Coalition of Black Voter Participation and several organizations of black elected officials, and built a Roster of over 10,000 Black Elected Officials. Williams created Focus Magazine to tie together black elected officials, political activists, and scholars nationwide.

The Joint Center also became a full-fledged think tank. It commissioned and published regular surveys of black Americans, and produced various studies, reports, books, and events. Top scholars like John Hope Franklin, Mary Frances Berry, Kenneth Clark, David Garrow, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Ron Walters, and William Julius Wilson worked with the Joint Center.

Malachi Knowles, A BlakPac Crusader and great leader in his own right, attended this impressive event.

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