Walter Williams loved teaching. Unlike too many other teachers today, he made it a point never to impose his opinions on his students. Those who read his syndicated newspaper columns know that he expressed his opinions boldly and unequivocally there. But not in the classroom.

Walter once said he hoped that, on the day he died, he would have taught a class that day. And that is just the way it was, when he died on Wednesday, December 2, 2020.

He was my best friend for half a century. There was no one I trusted more or whose integrity I respected more. Since he was younger than me, I chose him to be my literary executor, to take control of my books after I was gone.

But his death is a reminder that no one really has anything to say about such things.

As an economist, Walter Williams never got the credit he deserved. His book “Race and Economics” is a must-read introduction to the subject. Amazon has it ranked 5th in sales among civil rights books, 9 years after it was published.

Another book of his, on the effects of economics under the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, was titled “South Africa’s War Against Capitalism.” He went to South Africa to study the situation directly. Many of the things he brought out have implications for racial discrimination in other places around the world.

I have had many occasions to cite Walter Williams’ research in my own books. Most of what others say about higher prices in low income neighborhoods today has not yet caught up to what Walter said in his doctoral dissertation decades ago.

Despite his opposition to the welfare state, as something doing more harm than good, Walter was privately very generous with both his money and his time in helping others.

He figured he had a right to do whatever he wanted to with his own money, but that politicians had no right to take his money to give away, in order to get votes.

In a letter dated March 3, 1975, Walter said: “Sometimes it is a very lonely struggle trying to help our people, particularly the ones who do not realize that help is needed.”

In the same letter, he mentioned a certain hospital which “has an all but written policy of prohibiting the flunking of black medical students.”

Not long after this, a professor at a prestigious medical school revealed that black students there were given passing grades without having met the standards applied to other students. He warned that trusting patients would pay — some with their lives — for such irresponsible double standards. That has in fact happened.

As a person, Walter Williams was unique. I have heard of no one else being described as being “like Walter Williams.”

Holding a black belt in karate, Walter was a tough customer. One night three men jumped him — and two of those men ended up in a hospital.

The other side of Walter came out in relation to his wife, Connie. She helped put him through graduate school — and after he received his Ph.D., she never had to work again, not even to fix his breakfast.

Walter liked to go to his job at 4:30 AM. He was the only person who had no problem finding a parking space on the street in downtown Washington. Around 9 o’clock or so, Connie — now awake — would phone Walter and they would greet each other tenderly for the day.

We may not see his like again. And that is our loss.

A professor of economics at George Mason University, Walter E. Williams wrote a syndicated column that ran for many years in The Winchester Star. Thomas Sowell’s column is distributed by Creators Syndicate.

(15) comments

Doc Samson

A true "maverick" who wasn't afraid to step off the DNC plantation and stand up for what he believed in, despite the mockery and denigration he exposed himself to. See Leftist comments for real time examples...


Williams spent his last years swimming against the current of scientific consensus and supplying irrational & inaccurate arguments for climate denial. His statements that volcanoes were a primary source for CO2 emission (Not) or that wildfires were in decline (Definitely Not!) or that thousands of dedicated environmental scientists were examples of an "absolute worst case of professional incompetence and dishonesty" (Outrageously Not!) were examples of deliberate misrepresentation giving false ammunition for deniers and fueling their inertia and insistence that global climate change did not warrant action to mitigate this impending catastrophe. The compelling psychology of denial can corrupt even basically good people like Walter Williams.

Bernie Mac

I wouldn't take your word for anything. Show us the exact quotes with links. Democrats are known for their misrepresentation and outright dishonesty.

Spock Here

Show us the exact quotes with links that Democrats are known for their misrepresentation and outright dishonesty, oh sorry human being who believes North Korea ships brought ballots into Maine, and probably donates to the trump "gimme more money" PAC.


Oh Please, Bernie-- why would I lie to you when the truth is so much more compelling?

Bernie Mac

You are a liar, hagansan. You lied about what Williams wrote. You are "deliberately misrepresenting" statements written by Williams. Why do you do that?

A fact from the link you provided -

"Geophysicists estimate that just three volcanic eruptions — Indonesia (1883), Alaska (1912) and Iceland (1947) — spewed more carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than all of mankind’s activities during our entire history."

That in no way resembles what you said it did. Again, you are a liar!

I'm not even gonna waste my time with the other link.

Democrats will change what you say until it no longer resembles what you said. And then argue with you about what you did not say.


Again with Bernie and the vituperative insults. Those links include my original comments that specifically address your concerns. The idea that volcanic mega-explosions outpace man made CO2 emissions flies in the face of the evidence-- those historic blasts didn't even make a blip on ice core gas data-- insignificant compared to the 45% increase in CO2 since the industrial age. Quoting "Geophysicists" isn't a real reference. As the real USGS reference confirms, volcanoes represent only about 1% of atmospheric pollution today, and man made pollution can now outpace a Mt. St. Helen's eruption in under 3 hours.

This style of commentary debate is indeed a waste of time. Why don't you come out, tell us who you are what level of education and comprehension you're comfortable with and I'd be happy to offer you references about the climate debate that are appropriate for any level of inquiry. You can also find them on our Shenandoah Naturalists website.

Bernie Mac

hagan - Did I call you a racist? Did I call you Hitler? Or do you only object to conservatives insulting liberals? Of course you do. That makes you a hypocrite. And a liar.

Bernie Mac

And another thing - You may have an extensive education, a stellar intellect and a outstanding knowledge of the subject but that does not make one an honorable moral person. On the contrary, using those accomplishments to justify misrepresentations is despicable.

Doc Samson

@Bernie - You are asking for credible information from Klimate Kultists who cannot tolerate anything that doesn't support what they "need" to believe. Remember, when a famous person of minority status dies, mockery of them is only non-racist if they were a conservative or libertarian. Double standards are fun when you're a Leftist!

Bernie Mac

They lie about everything. Who could possibly trust these liars? Their spouses must be desperately lonely. Their children emotionally scarred for life.


"And another thing..."

Doesn't it seem strange that one with such a rigid view of moral conduct would be an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump? Asking for a friend . . .

Bernie Mac

I am an outspoken supporter of pro-American policies. That's why I am not a Democrat. You lie and misrepresent what other people say. Why do you do that? Is it at disorder of some sort? Or just a character flaw? Interesting that you are such an outspoken critic of Donald Trump yet you have many of the same flaws.

john brown

Let's be honest, there is no sorrow in the black community over his death.

Spock Here

From his obit: Drafted into the army 2 years after high school was drafted into the Army: "Something of a rebel in uniform, he marked “Caucasian” as his race on an Army form. When questioned, he replied, “If I checked off ‘Negro,’ I’d get the worst job over here.” The ploy paid off with a relatively easy assignment." RIP

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