We are a department in mourning as our prayers go out to Ron’s wife and life
partner Pat. Ron’s presence will be missed dearly. We are honored to have
known such a wonderful person, outstanding colleague, and friend.
An expert on race and politics, Ron fought for civil rights. As noted
in the Washington Post, Ron was proud of his role in what was to be become the
first lunch-counter sit-in, in the town of Wichita in 1958. As a leader
of the youth council of the local NAACP, Ron and his cousin Carol Parks organized
a sit-in protest at the Dockum Drugstore. Young African Americans sat at
this drugstore’s lunch counter day after day while being refused service. This
group of protestors sat in silence, enduring taunts from white customers.
Ron’s influence on comprehensive health care and a proposed two-state solution
to the Israeli-Palestinian region was first considered radical but is now a generally
accepted political discourse.
Dr. Walters joined the Department of Government and Politics in 1996 and became
Professor Emeritus in 2009. He was well-known in the field of Black Politics
and was a very prominent public figure in radio, television and print. Ron
published nine books including his award winning Black Presidential
Politics in America: A Strategic Approach, in 1988 with the State University
of New York Press, his prestigious 2003 book White Nationalism: Black Interests,
the Conservative Movement and the Black Community, and most recently The
Price of Racial Reconciliation, in 2008 with the University of Michigan Press. He
also published hundreds of chapters and articles.
Ron received his Ph.D. in International Relations at the American University
in 1971 with the dissertation, “The Formulation of United States Foreign Policy
Toward Africa, 1958-1963.” Ron also has a long list of renowned awards
including the Ralph Bunche Award for the Best Book on Race and Politics from
the American Political Science Association, the W.E.B. Dubois/Frederick Douglass
Award from the African Heritage Studies Association, the Distinguished
Scholar/Activist Award from The Black Scholar Magazine, and the First
Annual Distinguished Service Award from the Wichita Black Historical Society.
Dr. Walters leaves a great legacy. He continues to shape scholars both
old and young.
My most vivid memories of Ron Walters are his ever-present smiles. However
depressing the news was, Ron never ceased to greet me with a broad smile. I have
met few people who were as consistently and sincerely as upbeat. Whether he was
talking about a new research project or contemporary political problems, he always
had a positive attitude--and an encounter with Ron could make your day.
—Dr. Ric Uslaner, Professor, Department of Government
and Politics, University of Maryland
out of his passing on Saturday and was saddened. Although I have not been here
at Maryland long, Dr. Walters' work was well known and former students always
spoke highly of him. He was very supportive of the Black Political Student Association
and spoke at their event last May. His words inspired many of our African American
students to become even more passionate about their pursuit of careers in political
science and making a difference in society. He was a kind and great man and he
will be missed.
—Felecia E. Commodore,
Academic Advisor, Dept. of Government & Politics,
University of Maryland
Professor Ron Walters was a great colleague, whose deep and wide experience
and engagement with black political thought were valued by politicans and intellectuals
at the highest levels. Walters was the model of the intellectual who eschewed
the ivory tower. His involvement as a senior advisor to the historic presidential
runs of Jesse Jackson in the 1980s, gave him an insider's knowledge of race and
politics that he used to infuse his intellectual work. Walters spoke here at
the law school in 2005 during a student-sponsored Town Hall on Reparations.
and I shared many of the same intellectual interests and thus often ended up
on panels and radio shows together. I regarded Professor Walters as an elder
statesman whose thinking and work helped me shape my own views and direction,
even on those few occasions when we found ourselves disagreeing (on air, usually).
The loss of Ron Walters is great, but he leaves behind a body of work that will
continue to influence and shape our understanding of race and politics in America.
Sherrilyn Ifill, University of Maryland School of Law
I am a former student and employee of Dr. Walters. During the second semester
of my sophomore year I was enrolled two of Dr. Walters courses, while at the
same time working as one of his undergraduate research assistants at the African
American Leadership Institute. Working for Dr. Walters and having him as a professor
was an absolute honor. It saddened me to learn of his passing. Dr. Walters has
had an significant influence on me, as I'm sure he has had on so many others.
It's unfortunate that I was not able to tell him of the impact that he had on
me, but he will forever live on in my memory.
—Damika D. Baker,
Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture,
If you would like to share your memories of the late Dr. Walters, please
email the webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.