Former local activist, scholar to give talk on 1965 voting act

3:17:52 PM CDT - Thursday, September 07, 2006

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

In 1958, a young Ron Walters was trying to make a point about desegregation when he participated in what has recently been recognized as a pioneering sit-in at Wichita's Dockum Drugstore for the civil rights movements.

Later this month in a lecture at WSU, Walters, now a distinguished scholar at the University of Maryland, will make a point on whether blacks "have realized the empowerment potential" of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Ron Walters
Ron Walters
His lecture, at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25 in the Sudermann Commons of the Hughes Metropolitan Complex, is part of WSU's recognition of Constitution Day.

A federal law, spearheaded by Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd who reportedly carries a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution with him, mandates that schools and universities that receive federal funds must annually recognize the signing of the Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 cleared the way for many who had previously been denied the right to vote. It's the subject of Walters' most recent book, "Freedom is Not Enough," which will be available for sale during his lecture.

While blacks have realized the empowerment potential envisioned by such activists as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Walters said he'll talk about "the continuing problem of voter disenfranchisement, as well as tactics and strategies that might improve the impact of voter turnout."

Walters, a native Wichitan, is internationally known for his expertise on the issues of African-American leadership and politics. A prolific writer, he is director of the African American Leadership Institute and Scholar Practitioner Program, Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership, and professor in government and politics at the University of Maryland.

His talk is being sponsored by the departments of history and political science, the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Division of Academic Affairs and Research.

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