Robert L. Williams was the founding director of the Black Studies program (now the Department of African and African American Studies) at Washington University. The program was launched in 1969. Before this, he was a well-respected and widely known clinical psychologist. He taught the program's most popular course, "Black Psychology," and created the structural models for the program that are still in place today. He was a founding member of the Association of Black Psychologists and an early critic of racial and cultural biases in IQ testing, developing the famous and controversial BITCH test (Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity). He also coined the term “Ebonics." He was the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters. His latest book length work was Racism Learned at an Early Age Through Racial Scripting: Racism at an Early Age (Author House, 2007). Dr. Willams passed away on the morning of August 12, 2020 at 90 years old. He will surely be missed by family, friends, and colleagues.
In 1969, Washington University began offering courses under the rubric of Black Studies. It was a momentous occurrence. A Black Studies Program was meant to reassure students about the core mission of their education: to change the world’s values to bring about the liberation of African-descended peoples from the thralldom of Eurocentric hegemony. Fifty years later, that tradition lives on in today's Department of African and African-American Studies (AFAS).discover our history