Walter White, in the following
Walter White was the father whom I lived with under the same roof for over twenty years of my life but whom I am still coming to know. Through my memories, through his writings, through the research and writings of others such as Sondra Kathryn Wilson, 43 years after his death he is still being revealed to me as extraordinary—for the exceptional breadth of his interests, for his energy and single-mindedness, for his vision of this country. I often wonder what he would make of today's world of black and white, whether the progress made would have given him some satisfaction. Yesterday's world certainly did not. Every injustice against black people made him angry and combative and, of course, still would where injustice still exists.
My father was more often away from home than in it. Countless were the valises my mother packed for him to travel thousands of miles on NAACP business (sometimes to his life's peril). He spent hours with his associates in meetings or on the telephone—a device he would have invented if it didn't already exist. He read and clipped from stacks of daily newspapers in order to keep abreast; we never read a paper that wasn't full of empty spots! He was frequently exhausted in the evenings, often short-tempered, sometimes discouraged, sometimes euphoric, always preoccupied and even obsessed with his assault on every form of American bigotry. Little did it all mean to my little brother and me; those years of overheard talk of cloture, filibuster, Senators Rankin and Bilbo, anti-lynching, disenfranchisement, the Scottsboro boys—all of this was the drumbeat against which our family life pulsated.
But even a selfish child must arrive at the lucid realization that her father is not an ordinary man, that he belongs to the world and she must hand him over. In truth, Walter White was only half alive in any other context than the NAACP and the civil rights struggle. He believed in both passionately, and he believed deeply in his own capacity to further them, which he did for 37 years. And yet today he is little celebrated. Perhaps Dr. Wilson's excellent work will remind us of his importance to the fight which paved the road to the Sixties and the present.
New York City Jane White Viazzi July 1, 1998