By Tanasia Kenne
Howard University has been gifted an extensive collection of African-American art and sculptures valued at $2.5 million.
The historically Black institution, based in Washington, D.C., announced the donation late last week, along with an endowed chair honoring renowned scholar, activist and former HU professor Dr. Ronald W. Walters.
Walters served in the college’s political science department for 25 years and was department chair for almost 10 years before his death in 2010. His wife, Patricia Turner Walters, now hopes to honor her late husband’s legacy by donating her coveted art collection to the institution he loved so much.
“It is an incredible honor to receive this generous gift of precious art from the Walters family,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick, calling Walters “a giant among scholars.”
“This collection of sculptures and portraits and paintings will be an excellent complement to our gallery and a beneficial focus of training in our art history courses,” he added.
The gift of art includes 152 pieces, including original portraits, paintings, sculptures and photos from notable eras like the Harlem Renaissance, according to a press release. It also features works from renowned artists such as Romare Bearden, Robert S. Duncanson, Kehinde Wiley and others.
Patricia Walters, who started collecting pieces in the late ’80s, said she was more than happy to donate her art assortment to Howard.
“I always knew I wanted to do something like this to honor my husband’s legacy,” she said, “But I never imagined that I would get to see it happen in my lifetime. I’m so grateful to President Frederick for working with me to make this possible. I could not be happier.”
In celebrating Walter’s legacy, the university also will establish the first Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics. The chair will be housed in the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center on campus and “is intended to spur interdisciplinary collaborations across the University on critical issues of race and Black politics,” according to the university.
A native of Wichita, Kansas, Walters got his start as a young activist and would become a leading political strategist and expert on issues impacting the African diaspora. He also penned 10 books, including the award-winning “Black Presidential Politics in America: A Strategic Approach,” and more than 200 articles, the center’s website states.
“This endowed chair is designed to be a reflection of [Walter’s] unique history as an activist, a political strategist and a trailblazing academic professor,” Frederick said. “This gift comes at the perfect moment to expand our students’ involvement in the political conversations of our time.”