Wichita library department to be named after native civil rights chief

Wichita City Council members voted to build a new branch library named after a prominent local civil rights leader, Dr. Ronald W. Walters, to be named.

Dr. Walters was born in Wichita and organized the sit-in in the Dockum Drug Store in 1958, one of the first sit-ins at the civil rights movement’s lunch counter. He later made contributions to Congress and several presidents. He was director of the African American Leadership Institute and Scholar Practitioner Program, Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and Professor of Government and Policy at the University of Maryland. Dr. Walters died in 2010.

Dr. Walter’s wife, Patricia Walters, spoke to the city council over an internet connection and said her husband was an intellectual, an activist, and Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama sought his advice and suggestions.

The name will be given to the new branch library at 4195 East Harry in Council District 3 and it will open earlier this year. It is the former Linwood Park Branch Library that will move to the location on Harry.

The council’s vote was 5: 1 in favor of the new name. Councilor Jeff Blubaugh voted against the naming, saying a poll was in favor of naming the library after the late Mayor Carl Brewer, who campaigned for a strong library system. Mayor Brandon Whipple said the poll was intended to provide input and not a final choice for nomination. The library’s board of directors acted as the naming advisory committee.

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