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Image: Original caption: Wyatt Tee Walker, Executive Director of SCLC, meets with other civil rights activists after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr..  April, 1968.  Copyright: Flip Schulke/ Corbis.

Audio courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

Wyatt Tee Walker

Date: 
Mar. 18, 1964
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Wyatt Tee Walker
Wyatt Tee Walker Bio

Wyatt Tee Walker (born 1929) is a minister and civil rights activist. In 1953 he became pastor of Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg, Virginia. He was president of the local NAACP chapter and state director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). In 1959 he organized the Prayer Pilgrimage for Public Schools, a protest against Virginia's efforts to block school integration. He served as the first full-time executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference from 1960 to 1964; he also served as Martin Luther King, Jr.'s chief of staff. He is credited by Taylor Branch with being the architect of the Birmingham campaign of the early 1960s. After leaving the SCLC, he became vice president and later president of the Negro Heritage Library, a publishing venture devoted to getting African American history into school curricula. He was appointed Special Assistant on Urban Affairs to the governor of New York in 1965. From 1967 until his retirement in 2004, he served as senior pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem. He was active in the anti-apartheid movement with the American Committee on Africa.

Image: Original caption: Wyatt Tee Walker, Executive Director of SCLC, meets with other civil rights activists after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr..  April, 1968.  Copyright: Flip Schulke/ Corbis.

Abstract

 

Walker discusses how advances in communication technology along with the Second World War has helped black Americans to realize the problems in their communities and has pushed them to become involved in the civil rights movement. Walker provides his opinion that once the South overcomes segregation and racism, it will be a great place for black people to live. He describes his views of Abraham Lincoln as a historic figure, current movements to desegregate public schools, and his involvement with the creation of an encyclopedia of African American life and culture. Walker discusses the role of leadership in the civil rights movement including Martin Luther King, Jr.'s position as a centralized leader. Walker also describes demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama and how he and other leaders prevented an explosion of violence among black protesters.

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