Ron Walters

2012 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner

Ron Walters

Ron Walters (1938 – 2010) was one of the foremost authorities on African American leadership and the politics of race in the United States. He was also a leader in his own right. Most notably Walters is credited with leading one of the first lunch-counter sit-ins in 1958 in Wichita—two years prior to the more famous sit-ins in Greensboro—assisting in the development of the Congressional Black Caucus, and advising Rev. Jesse Jackson during his two U.S. presidential campaigns.

Walters was the first chair of Afro-American studies at Brandeis University and taught for many years at Howard University where he was chair of the political science department. In 1996 Walters moved to the University of Maryland and became Director of the African American Leadership Institute at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership (the birthplace of the International Leadership Association).

He received the American Political Science Association's Ralph Bunche Prize and the Best Book award from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists. In addition to awards recognizing his scholarly contributions, Walters received numerous honors for his lifelong commitment to leadership and politics.

An internationally known author, Walters was widely respected as a top commentator on issues of the day. In addition to being frequently seen or quoted in major news outlets, Walters wrote a weekly syndicated column that appeared in many newspapers.

Upon his passing, Rev. Jesse Jackson summed up Walters' pivotal role over the years: "He was the preeminent activist and scholar of our times…. Our frame of reference."