Publisher: African Studies Association

A Tribute To Governor Williams

Vernon Mckay
KEYWORDS: A Tribute to Governor Williams


When Carl Rosberg, the chairman of our program committee, asked me to deliver a presidential address at tonight's banquet, I agreed to do so only if I could not find a better speaker for the occasion. Happily for you, I found him. Moreover, if you'll forgive a commercial, you can read all my potential presidential addresses anyway — in my book Africa in World Politics which Harper's is publishing next month. So you can have the best of both worlds.Governor Williams has shown in many ways that he is a good friend of our association. In introducing him to you, therefore, I want to take a few minutes to pay him a special tribute by giving you my assessment of his achievements during the nearly two years he has been in charge of African affairs.When President-elect Kennedy began to select his advisers late in 1960, many of us were surprised to find him putting the cart before the horse. That is to say, he appointed the Governor to be Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, even before he designated Dean Rusk as Secretary of State. The Williams appointment suggested to me, however, that the President considered African problems second to none in importance. He chose a man of stature, already baptized in the fire of Michigan politics on political, racial and social issues — a man with direct access to the President and a seasoned politician and administrator who is more than a match for the Assistant Secretaries for Europe and other areas in the State Department. At this point, I hasten to add that my remarks have not been cleared either by the State Department, or by the Fellows of the African Studies Association!

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