Ronald Walters, a scholar at the University of Maryland who was among the nation's foremost authorities on race and the politics of race, died Friday night. He was 72 years old and suffering from cancer.
The author of many books and articles on the topic, Walters was the deputy campaign manager for Jesse Jackson's presidential bid in 1984. He was also a policy adviser to former Reps. Charles Diggs (D-Mich.) and Bill Gray (D-Pa.)
He was also a good friend to me, and to NPR, and he was always available to help explain the dynamic of race in a nation that is still having trouble coming to grips with it.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said in a statement that Walters' "understanding of political science was deepened and enriched by his superior intellect and bolstered by his real world experiences working in politics":
Professor Walters was a scholarly giant and was one of America’s most insightful analysts of the political landscape, in general, and of the intersection of race, politics and policy, specifically. His scholarly work and sound advice, have assisted many past and present members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and other African American political and civic leaders around the country.