On this day we mark the passing of a man who has truly achieved the dream of living a fulfilling life.
Dr. Eric Eustace Williams was born on 25 September 1911 and died on 29 March 1981 but his legacy will continue to live on as the Father of our Nation, Trinidad and Tobago. In the memory of Dr. Eric Williams there is hope, pride, discipline, humility, strength, power and purpose. To know this man, is to know that nothing in life is impossible to achieve.
Dr. Eric Williams was leader of the Nation from 1956 - 1981 and this earned him the title "Father of the Nation". He was our country's first Chief Minister, first Premier and first Prime Minister. Dr. Eric Williams was responsible for creating and leading a National Movement of People, credited with the development of Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Williams presided over our country's movement from Colonialism to Independence and Republican status.
This movement is the Peoples National Movement (PNM) which proudly stands today as the genesis, the current and the future of politics in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Eric Williams advocated and nurtured the PNM Constitution which continues to be copied by other political parties across the region. The creation of a Women's League and the grooming of young politicians in the Youth League are some of the components which distinguished the PNM as a model institution. The PNM celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year and continues to grow stronger and more relevant even as so many other political parties have come and gone.
This National Scholar and Caribbean Historian used his intellect to fight against racism and to educate everyone who was willing to listen. Dr. Williams took the opportunity as Prime Minister to emphasize the importance of Education, making it free and available to all citizens and coined the timeless phrase "the future of the Nation is in the children's school bags". His autobiography "Inward Hunger" describes his struggles through his academic pursuits, "I was severely handicapped in my research by my lack of money.... I was turned down everywhere I tried ... and could not ignore the racial factor involved".
Regardless of his struggles Dr. Eric Williams was able to return to Trinidad and Tobago and "put down his bucket" in the place of his birth. In his famous speech at Woodford Square, he renamed the park "The University of Woodford Square''. He used this venue to give public lectures on world history, particularly in the context of Slavery and the Caribbean. His book Capitalism and Slavery is recorded as a globally recognized contribution to Caribbean history and the economics of slavery as a unique perspective.
The achievements and legacy of Dr. Williams are too far and wide to summarize in any one article.
At a time when our country is experiencing some challenging circumstances, we look towards the legacy of Dr. Eric Williams and his achievements as an inspiration to guide our journey. The Peoples National Movement is not just a political party in the narrow sense of the word but it was created as a National Movement for all, cutting across race, ethnicity, colour, class and creed.
Dr. Eric Williams was succeeded by Mr. George Chambers, Mr. Patrick Manning and now Dr. Keith Rowley holds the reigns of Leadership and is taking the Peoples National Movement forward. Let us honour the contribution of the Father of our great Nation and "Let's do this together" Trinidad and Tobago!
"Whatever the challenge that faces you, from whatever quarter, place always first that national interest and the national cause. The strength of the Nation depends on the strength of its citizens." Dr. Eric Williams, Independence Day address on August 31st 1962 Rest In Peace Dr. Eric Eustace Williams, yours is a timeless memory which we will continue to honour!
Public Relations Officer
Peoples National Movement