Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker was a nationally and internationally influential champion of civil rights. Walker was born on August 9, 1932 in Brockton, Massachusetts. After completing primary and secondary schooling in New Jersey, he attended Virginia Union University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1950. He later completed a doctorate from Rochester Theological Center. One of Reverend Walker’s most notable characteristics was his gift for music. As a composer of sacred music, his appreciation spread to researching the historic implications of music in the African American church and as an exhibiting artist he developed the name “Harlem’s Renaissance Man.” Walker traveled widely, studying at the University of Ife in Nigeria and the University of Ghana. These visits gave fuel to Walker’s campaign throughout the civil rights movement.
Reverend Walker achieved great acclaim in his career as a pastor, theologian, cultural historian, and prominent civil rights leader. Walker and Martin Luther King became intimate allies and partners in the battle against segregation in 1960. Replacing Ella Baker, Dr. King quickly positioned Walker in Atlanta as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s first full-time executive director in 1960. The organization grew into a national power under his leadership. Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker also served as the president of the local chapter of the NAACP and state director of the Congress for Racial Equality. Walker did not satisfy himself with national achievements. In 1978 Walker organized the International Freedom Mobilization to bring attention to the atrocities of apartheid in South Africa. Walker’s beliefs in equality and tolerance were felt in the public arena and also from his pulpit at the Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem New York, where he remained senior pastor from 1967 until 1991.
Walker’s fame grew in no small measure to his work organizing Birmingham’s Project C (confrontation) in the winter and spring of 1963. Created largely for the express purpose of focusing the nation’s eyes on racial violence in the south,