by Ron Walker
As a boy, young man and man, I have been blessed with innumerable influential, active, and positive people in my life. The most influential by far were my parents, Delores and Solomon Walker. They encouraged, advised and disciplined me when necessary. Both parents reminded me that having an education qualified me to ” do something” in the service of others.
I only applied to one college. That college was the historic HBCU, Lincoln University, located in Oxford, Pennsylvania. Little did I know that this venerable Institution would further influence my ability to ” do something”. My steps were ordered. The Lincoln legacy was exceptional. Horace Mann Bond, Father to the late Julian Bond, was the first black president of Lincoln. Langston Hughes, Kwame Nkrumah and Thurgood Marshall were a few of the giants that strode the campus of Lincoln. Gil Scott-Heron was two years behind me as was John and Erica Huggins, notable members of the Black Panther Party.
The admonition to “do something” dogged at my heels and ensnared me because of two Lincoln Professors. The first was Phillip Foner. Professor Foner was the highly acclaimed expert on Frederick Douglass. His book, the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass, gripped me from the very first page. Because of Professor Foner’s engaging but demanding teaching, I learned what a former slave did to become the greatest of anti slavery warriors. And his famous quote, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and never will”, is indelible within me. Frederick Douglass “did something”.
The second influence was Professor James Farmer, founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, organizer of the Freedom Rides of 1961, and a member of the Big Four that included Martin Luther King, Whitney Young and Roy Wilkins. For the younger readers of this blog, please research Young and Wilkins.
I enrolled in professor Farmer’s social justice class in 1966. By the Christmas of 1966 and because of his admonition to “do something”, I, along with 5 of my Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity brothers, found ourselves feeding hungry black families living in the dirt poor Mississippi delta town of “Belzoni”. Belzoni, Mississippi was know as “bloody Belzoni” for the frequency of bombings and violence that occurred there.
That trip concretized the calling to “do something” that continues to this day We can all be faithful servants. Each of us has something to give. It might be a kind word, a mentoring relationship or a financial donation to someone in need. The opportunity to serve is clear and present. “For unto whosoever much is given, of him shall much be required”. The time for each of us to “do something” in service of our communities, families and boys and young women of color is now.