Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ron Walters Presente! Community's "Tallest Tree," Dead at 72

Ron Walters, Community's "Tallest Tree," Dead at 72


By Talibah Chikwendu

Afro (Baltimore)

September 11, 2010


For more than four decades, Ronald Walters, PhD. served

the African-American community, the United States and

the world as a consultant, teacher, writer, mentor and

friend. His service came to a close Sept. 10, when he

lost a battle with cancer at Suburban Hospital in

Bethesda, Md. He was 72 years old.


Walters was born in Wichita, Kan. in 1938. He earned a

bachelor's degree with honors from Fisk University and

earned a masters degree in African studies and a

doctorate in International Studies from American

University. Walters was a professor since the early

1970s, teaching at numerous institutions including at

Georgetown, Syracuse, Brandeis and Howard universities

and the University of Maryland. He was chairman of the

Howard University Department of Political Science and

chairman of Afro-American Studies at Brandeis. He also

served as a visiting professor at Princeton University

and was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the

Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.


Walters' longtime friend the Rev. Jesse Jackson said

Howard University had recently convinced Walters to

come out of retirement and return to teaching, and that

Walters was looking forward to the opportunity.


U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) met Walters while a

student at Howard. "As a teacher, he always found time

for his students," Cummings told the AFRO. "When he was

at Howard, we would fight to get in his classes. He was

always telling us to reach high, to be a part of the

political process."


Walters also made his mark as a dedicated scholar,

authoring and co-authoring more than 10 books and

hundreds of academic articles and commentaries. He was

awarded the Ralph Bunch Prize for his book Black

Presidential Politics in America. He was also a

political consultant, serving as policy adviser to

former congressmen William Gray and Charles Diggs. He

worked with a number of organizations and serving as

director of public policy for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's

presidential campaigns.


Jackson, who said he visited Walters several times in

the hospital over the last few weeks, called Walters a

"scholar activist" and "a genius," as well as friend

and mentor.


"He's [Walters] the tallest tree in the forest of

activists, political scientists," Jackson said in an

interview with the AFRO. "I miss him so much already."


Walters was always ready to assist, whether to lend his

thoughts or his actions to a just endeavor. He traveled

around the world, and was actively involved in the

movement to end apartheid and the efforts to return

Jean-Bertrand Aristide to office in Haiti, according to

Jackson. And while his hard work gave him national

recognition and standing, an organization did not have

to be big to get his assistance.


"Ron Walters was a brilliant, dedicated, consistent and

unapologetic warrior for African-Americans," said

syndicated columnist George E. Curry. "While he is best

known for teaching at Howard and the University of

Maryland, advising Jesse Jackson and the Congressional

Black Caucus, he spent many hours sharing his expertise

with small, largely unknown community groups. Black

America has lost a scholar whose life exemplified



"He was definitely one of the greatest thinkers we

have," said Cummings.


He touched many people, personally and professionally.

"His powerful intellect, integrity and race

consciousness will be deeply missed," said Ramona

Edelin, a longtime friend and leading Black scholar .

"This loss is very personal for so many people he has

helped throughout the years."


Cummings considers himself one of those people. "He was

like a part of my family," said Cummings. "I'm going to

miss him tremendously."


"He encouraged me to run for Congress," Cummings said.

"He [Walters] said, `Not only will you win, you must

win.' Whenever I had difficult political questions, I

could always pick up the phone and call Ron. He was a

sort of quiet man, but had strong, well thought-out

opinions and he could always back them up."


It's that quality that will be missed at the AFRO as

well. Along with the many commentaries published in its

pages in which Walters addressed important issues, he

was a valued source for a variety of stories.


"It was always a pleasure to speak with Dr. Walters,

who remained remarkably humble and accessible despite

his stature," said AFRO Washington Bureau Chief Zenitha

Prince. "Our interviews invariably turned into

conversations in which he would demonstrate an erudite

knowledge of the issues affecting the African-American

community and also a deep commitment to Black progress.

He will be missed."



From the BlackCommentator:


We are extremely saddened to reort the death of Dr. Ron

Walters, PhD. Brother Ron was a member of the Editorial

Board of and a BC columnist. He

was a noted educator and poliical analyst. The title of his

olumn was "African American Leadership" a subject he

studied, wrote about and taught. The next issue of Black

Commentator will present more toughts about this warrior

for social justice, economic juystice and peace.




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