Former Wichitan, Ronald Walters left mark on civil rights motion

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – Dr. Ronald Walters, an internationally renowned scholar and leader, started out in his hometown of Wichita, where as president of the NAACP’s local youth chapter he helped organize one of the country’s first sit-ins at the lunch counter in protest against segregation, The Dockum Drug Store Sit in.

“He taught them to sit down, people how to act, and not how to talk to people when things were thrown at them,” said Dr. Walters’ widow Patricia Turner Walters.

Patricia now said she wanted to make sure people know the sit-in was just the beginning.

“My whole life has been shaped by continuing Ron’s legacy,” said Patricia. “Ron was a brilliant educator, teaching at many prestigious universities around the country. Ron had the elite ability to interact with Presidents of the United States.”

Dr. Walters spent his career traveling around the world speaking as an expert on racial and black politics. He also wrote 12 books.

His brother Kevin Walters said his nature as a leader was partly due to how he grew up.

“He showed up in that environment of the first, and when he saw injustice, nature stepped in,” said Kevin. “He was already programmed to go there and try to do the best he could to see that his people are the best they can be.”

The City of Wichita recently opened a new library and named after Dr. Walters named. Brandon Johnson, vice mayor of Wichita, said naming the library was an easy decision.

“He really made a big impression, and this is naming a library after such a gentleman. This could be an inspiration to thousands of young people here in town trying to follow in his footsteps, be brave and use their voice and speak and make those smart decisions that should be a president to seek advice from. This is a really big deal, “said Johnson.

Johnson hopes the Wichitans learn about the town’s rich history and people.

“Talk to some of the elders here who some of these people know,” Johnson said. “Learn from them and their experiences.”

Dr. Walters died of lung cancer in 2010 at the age of 72.

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