He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1972. Since being a graduate student at UCLA, he has been a friend of economist and columnist Thomas Sowell. Correspondence between Sowell and Williams appears in the 2007 by "A Man of Letters" by Sowell. Williams has been a Professor of Economics at George Mason University since 1980, and chairman of that University's Economic's department from 1995 to 2001.
Williams has written hundreds of articles and his syndicated column is published weekly in approximately 140 newspapers across the United States, as well as on several web sites.
As an economist, Williams often speaks and writes about virtues of the free market, the detriments of socialist systems and government intervention, and often cites real world examples to make his point. He has said "That's a challenge I love: making economics fun and understandable."
Williams supports legalization of organ trafficking to increase the supply of organs for transplant, stating that the true proof of whether or not an individual owns something is whether or not they have the right to sell it. If selling organs is illegal, then subsequently individuals do not own their own bodies.
Williams is an African-American, and is an outspoken champion of black education, frequently indicting the educational systems of inner city schools for perpetuating, in his words, "a fraud against African-American students and families by lowered standards." He is also a critic of the minimum wage and affirmative action, believing that both practices are detrimental to blacks and detrimental to liberty. Williams especially emphasizes his belief that racism and the legacy of slavery in the United States are overemphasized as problems faced by the black community and do not adequately explain the situation blacks face today.
Williams praises capitalism (of a laissez-faire variety) as being the most moral and most productive system man has ever devised. "Capitalism is relatively new in human history. Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving your fellow man.
He has gone on record as advocating the Free State Project in at least two columns and once on television. The Williams endorsement correlated with the largest single membership jump in the first 5000 phase of the project, a jump even higher than the results of the project being Slashdotted. He also believes in the right of U.S. states to secede from the union as several states attempted to do during the Civil War. Williams has supported or been sympathetic toward various secessionist ideas in his writings.
Cartoonist Bruce Tinsley, in his conservative comic strip Mallard Fillmore, launched a campaign to draft Williams for the Republican nomination in the 2008 United States presidential election. Williams has stated that he is inundated with emails, but won't run, although he won't completely rule out the possibility.
Man vs. the state: Economist Walter E. Williams reflects on his long career battling Jim Crow, big government, and liberal orthodoxy.(Up from the Projects: An Autobiography)(Book review)
May 01, 2011; Up From the Projects: An Autobiography, by Walter E. Williams, Hoover Institution Press, 150 pages, $24.95 ON MAY 29, 1963, Pvt....
Unvarnished Views of a "Radical" Economist: Walter E. Williams on More Innovation, Less Regulation, and the Entrepreneur as an American Hero
Jul 01, 2005; Executive Summary Walter E. Williams, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University in Virginia,...