In Memoriam

Ronald William Walters (1938-2010)

Ronald W. Walters, civil rights activist, columnist, author, and educator, has died at a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, after a battle with cancer. He was 72 years old.

Professor Walters was a native of Wichita, Kansas. He was a pioneer of the lunch counter sit-in movement. In 1958, two years before the Greensboro protests that ignited a lunch counter sit-in movement throughout the South, Walters and a cousin organized a sit-in at a whites-only lunch counter at a Wichita drug store. After three weeks of protests, the owner of the store relented and decided to serve African Americans.

Walters went on to Fisk University in Nashville where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1963. He later earned a master’s degree in African studies and a Ph.D. in international studies at American University in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Walters taught first at Syracuse University and then chaired the African-American studies program at Brandeis University. In the early 1970s, Walters joined the faculty at Howard University and later chaired the political science department. He moved to the University of Maryland in 1996.

At the time of his death he was professor emeritus of government and politics at the University of Maryland and director of the African-American Leadership Institute. He was planning to return to Howard University as a senior research fellow.

Professor Walters was a syndicated newspaper columnist, a contributor to JBHE, and the author of nine books including his most recent work, The Price of Racial Reconciliation (University of Michigan Press, 2008).