Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College (MEC) on Wednesday joined the outpouring of tributes on the passing of William R. “Bill” Howard, one of the founders of the college and president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizers of the West Indian American Day Carnival Parade.
Howard’s family said he passed away peacefully in his sleep in his Brooklyn home early Sunday morning. He was 75.
“Howard was an advocate for Medgar Evers College and one of its founding members,” the college said in a statement. “He supported the mission of the college and ensured that the residents of Central Brooklyn and the surrounding area received affordable first-rate college education.”
MEC also said Howard also made it “possible for all who dreamed of getting a college education to have access, even those who were marginalized and underserved or might otherwise not have had access to higher education.”
During the early years of the college, MEC noted that Howard worked with then Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm to pass legislation for the Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge program (SEEK).
MEC said “that paved the way for open admissions at the City University of New York (CUNY), which gave low-income students to enroll in higher education and provide academic support.”
More recently, MEC said Howard collaborated with President Rudolph F. Crew, and became an avid supporter of the Medgar Evers College Pipeline Program and the Science and Technology Summer programs for youth.
MEC said Howard was also “a cultural icon who worked tirelessly to keep the contributions and legacy of Caribbean people alive.
“As President of the West-Indian American Day Carnival Association, he worked with the college to advance initiatives that would document and archive information about the annual parade,” it said. “Howard also ensured the economic growth and survival of the parade.”
Howard also served on the Board of Brooklyn’s Jewish Hospital [later merged with Interfaith Hospital Center], where he chaired the finance committee and once was president of the nursing school, MEC noted.
In addition, he served as a CUNY trustee from 1983 to 1995.
“We are all devastated,” Howard’s family said in a statement through a spokesperson. “We loved Bill dearly and will miss him terribly. We would ask that our privacy is respected as we grieve during this very difficult time.”
MEC said Howard’s contribution to the college, its community and West-Indian American culture “will touch future generations.”