Ronald Walters, a political scientist who was a renowned expert on black politics, has died at age 72. Walters, who taught at Howard University and the University of Maryland, died of cancer. Walters was a scholar of the politics of race who always made time to talk to reporters. He was also an activist, having participated in what many believe to be the first lunch-counter sit-in in his home town of Wichita, Kan., in 1958.
As record numbers of African Americans began winning seats in Congress after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Walters suggested blacks could pool their resources into an organization that would represent the interests of their constituencies. The following appeared in The Washington Post:
Dr. Walters also helped develop the intellectual framework of the Congressional Black Caucus in the 1970s. Some of his political ideas, such as comprehensive health care and a proposed two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, were viewed as radical. A quarter-century later, they are part of the intellectual mainstream.
"Many of his ideas now make up the progressive wing of the country," (the Rev. Jesse) Jackson said. "If it's morally right, it can't be politically wrong."
Two decades before Barack Obama was elected president, Dr. Walters described the political steps an African American candidate would have to take in his 1987 book "Black Presidential Politics in America: A Strategic Approach."
In 2003, he predicted a resurgent white conservative movement in his book "White Nationalism, Black Interests: Conservative Public Policy and the Black Community." When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Dr. Walters became a leading voice in highlighting the inequality that tarnished the bright edges of the American dream.
Read more about Walters in The Washington Post.