November 7, 2007

The Eric Williams Memorial Collection Essay Competition

Eric WillimasPort of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago--The Eric Williams Memorial Collection (EWMC) at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, announces the inauguration of the “Eric Williams ‘School Bags’ Essay Competition.” In honour of the 2007 Bicentenary of the British Abolition of the Transatlantic Trade in Africans, this regional effort is co-sponsored by the Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee.

Dr Eric Williams, noted scholar/historian and the first Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, authored the classic Capitalism and Slavery, which is widely considered to have “defined the study of Caribbean History.”

Throughout his life, Williams gave special emphasis to learning. He often said “to educate is to emancipate.” On August 30, 1962, the eve of his country’s Independence from Britain, he exhorted:

“You, the children, yours is the great responsibility to educate your parents, teach them to live together in harmony…To your tender and loving hands, the future of the Nation is entrusted. In your innocent hearts, the pride of the Nation is enshrined. On your scholastic development, the salvation of the Nation is dependent…you carry the future of Trinidad and Tobago in your school bags.”

The contest is offered to all final year Sixth Form students in the former and current British-colonized Caribbean countries: Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. It will be held from September 15 through December 15, 2007. Winners will be announced on March 1, 2008.

All entries will be based on Eric Williams’ seminal work and will discuss two questions: How has Capitalism and Slavery shaped current debates on the commerce in African slaves and the abolition of slavery? What relevance, if any, do these debates have for today’s student?

First prizewinners will receive a four-day trip for two to Trinidad and Tobago with airfare, hotel accommodations and two meals daily; a tour of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection and University of the West Indies campus; a US $1000 educational voucher; courtesy calls on the President of Trinidad and Tobago and the Speaker of the House of Representatives; a tour of Parliament; a set of Eric Williams’ books; and a framed certificate. The winning essay will also be published. In the event of a Trinidad and Tobago winner, a trip to Jamaica will be substituted.

Patrons of the Eric Williams Memorial Collection’s ‘School Bags’ Essay Competition are: Caribbean Airlines, Ltd.; Caribbean Development Bank; CARICOM; CL Financial, Ltd.; Digicel Trinidad & Tobago, Ltd.; LIAT (1974) Ltd.; Trinidad Hilton; University of the West Indies. Detailed information and runner-up prizes are listed on the EWMC’s website:

The Eric Williams Memorial Collection constitutes the Library, Archives and Museum of Eric Williams. It was inaugurated by former US Secretary of State Colin Powell in 1998, and named to UNECSO’s prestigious Memory of the World Register in 1999.

For more information, please contact Erica Williams Connell, Eric Williams Memorial Collection P.O. Box 561631, Miami, FL 33256-1631, USA. Tel: (305) 271-7246; Fax: (305) 271-4160; Cell: (305)905-9999 Email: or Helen Kitti Smith Tel: (214)546-4535; Email: Other website information:


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