Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder and Civil Rights Leader Wyatt Tee Walker Share
Words of Inspiration
R-MC president Robert Lindgren congratulates
Rev. Wyatt Tee Walker.
Randolph-Macon College celebrated and honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. during a tribute celebration on what would have been the civil rights leader’s
79th birthday. On January 15, 2008 at noon in Blackwell Auditorium in the R-MC Center
for the Performing Arts, President Robert Lindgren welcomed special guests, the
honorable L. Douglas Wilder, Mayor of Richmond and the first elected African-American
governor in United States history, as the keynote speaker. Lindgren spoke of Wilder’s
dedication and commitment to the civil rights movement and commended his political
Wilder praised Dr. King’s contributions to our nation and noted his ability to motivate
and lead others by example. “Dr. King was a leader. He wasn’t chosen to be a leader,
he wasa leader,” said Wilder. “Leadership doesn’t come from a position. Leadership
comes from within.” Wilder also told the audience of about 500 R-MC students and
guests, that Americans need to work together to find solutions. “Nothing is decided
in a closet,” said Wilder. “American people have to have open discussions and make
In addition, R-MC Provost Bill Johnston presented a special citation to civil rights
leader Wyatt Tee Walker who was a close friend of Dr. King. “I won’t win the Nobel
Peace Prize but this will do nicely,” said Walker with a smile. Walker marched along
with Dr. King during the Civil Rights movement and served as his executive assistant.
He was later appointed to become the first full-time executive director of the Southern
Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) from 1960 to 1964. He was once described
by Dr. King as ‘‘one of the keenest minds of the nonviolent revolution.’’ Dr. Walker,
a pastor/theologian, has traveled to 97 countries and met with such notables as
Nelson Mandela and the late former Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat.
Wilder and Walker were classmates at Virginia Union University. “Tee, you were an
inspiration to me,” said Wilder. “You challenged me to do something different.”
Shalise Bates-Pratt `01, R-MC’s director of student leadership, sang a moving rendition
of Dr. King’s favorite hymn, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” which was sung at his
funeral. She also led the audience in the hymn, “Lift Every Voice.”
The celebration concluded with a powerful declamation of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream”
speech by R-MC student, Waddell Howard ’09.
Howard has traveled the country delivering this powerful speech, including a presentation
at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC.
For more information about this and other events at R-MC, please contact Anne Marie Lauranzon at 804-752-7317, firstname.lastname@example.org
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.