Eddie Williams, the president and force behind the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a leading think-tank that deals with Black issues, died on May 8. He was 84.

The late Eddie Williams led the Joint Center for Political Studies from 1972-2004. (Courtesy photo)

Williams started the Washington, D.C. based Joint Center in 1972 and shaped it to be the premier Black scholarly source of non-university related information for political engagement and participation, monitoring the progress of Black politicians at all levels and economic development.

“On behalf of the Joint Center and our community of elected officials and policy experts who serve communities of color, I want to express our sorrow upon learning of the passing of Eddie N. Williams,” Joint Center President Spencer Overton said in a statement.

Williams, a native of Memphis, Tenn., graduated from the University of Illinois in 1955 and worked in the U.S. Army as a reporter, was the first Black protocol officer at the U.S. Department of State and served on the staffs of U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Hubert Humphrey (D-Minn.). He had a stint at the University of Chicago as the director of the Center for Policy Study and then as its vice president for public affairs.

As president of the Joint Center, Williams created the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation, which created “Focus Magazine” to discuss the contributions of Blacks in the political arena and worked on various projects with leading Black scholars such as John Hope Franklin, Mary Frances Berry, Ron Walters, William Julius Wilson and Pulitzer-Prize winning writer David Garrow. He also employed leading political scholars such as Dr. David Bositis, who has emerged as one of the top experts on Black politics in the country.

“We had a good working relationship,” Dr. Bositis told the AFRO. “While I was at the Joint Center, he introduced me to a lot of people. I considered him a friend and he was very smart and very capable.”