The City Council approved the Dr. Ronald W. Walters Branch Library as the name of the new District 3 Branch Library at the Tuesday, January 5 City Council meeting. The new location will open in early 2021 at 4195 E. Harry St. and will be the new home of the current Linwood Park Branch Library.
Doctor Ronald W. Walters was born in Wichita. Walters was an American author, speaker and scholar of African American politics. In 1958, he organized the Dockum Drugstore Sit-In, one of the first lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights movement. His subsequent career included national and international impact, often being called upon by civil rights leader Vernon Jordan to the Congressional Black Caucus, to universities, and to presidents for his ideas, recommendations and perspectives.
Walters was the 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. Upon Walters’ death, former Governor Sam Brownback wrote in a letter to his widow: “On September 10, 2010, our nation lost a true American hero, and Kansas lost one of its most glorious native sons, Dr. Ronald W. Walters.”
The Library Board of Directors served as the Naming Advisory Committee. A survey was distributed for naming recommendations. The Board narrowed down a list of 70 names to five, which were then placed in a poll and sent out to the community to pick the top three choices. Those top three choices led a discussion of the Board, which ultimately selected Ronald W. Walters as the new name approved by the City Council. Other top names included Carl Brewer, Meadowlark, Cynthia Berner and Ad Astra.