Posted by on September 17, 2010 in Blog
Ron Walters, professor, author and activist, died last week. His passing is a great loss. When I moved to Washington in 1978 to run the Palestinian Human Rights Campaign, one of my earliest supporters and friends was Ron Walters.
He was a professor at Howard University, an advisor to the Congressional Black Caucus and one of the leading intellectual forces who helped the civil rights movement realize its potential to advance black political empowerment.
We were able to work even more closely in the 1984 and 1988 Jesse Jackson for President campaigns. On one level, Ron was, for me, a mentor and an inspiration. His insights and understanding of American politics and African American history were absolutely breathtaking. I will never forget the lessons I learned form him. At the same time, Ron was a defender. He knew that even within the Jackson campaign there were those who were uncomfortable with outreach to Arab Americans and those who were opposed to Jackson’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (a position he advocated more than two decades before it became popular). And so, when efforts were made to exclude us or to silence our voices, I knew that Ron would be there as an advocate.
For the past 18 years I have been hosting a weekly call-in program carried on Arab satellite television. Ron was a frequent guest on the show, providing insights into American political developments. After the election of Barack Obama in 2008, I invited Ron to provide historical context. Here is an excerpt: