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Wichita library likely to be named after civil rights leader

January 4, 2021 GMT

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita officials are expected to name the city’s newest library after a Black man who led a sit-in at a drugstore in 1958 that helped end racial segregation in the city.

The Library Board has recommended the new library be named for Ronald Walters, who left Wichita to become a noted civil rights champion and author. The council was expected to accept the recommendation at its meeting Tuesday, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Walters was president of the Wichita NAACP Youth Council when he organized a sit-in at the Dockum Drugs store, which served Blacks only with carryout food.

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Walters and others sat at the diner and tried to order for three weeks before the manager relented and began serving Black customers. In 2006, the national NAACP said it was the first youth-led sit-in in the country to achieve the desired results.

Walters had a distinguished career in academia and wrote several books on racial and political subjects. He remained active in politics, serving as an adviser in the Bill Clinton administration on policies opposing South African apartheid and managing both presidential campaigns of the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

He died in 2010 at the age of 72.