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Shannell ThomasJuly 31, 2020 | Written by Imani Pope-Johns WASHINGTON – The Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center has selected sociology and criminology Ph.D. student Shannell Thomas for the $10,000 Winslow Sargeant Doctoral Award. This award is the first of its kind made possible by a gift from Winslow Sargeant, Ph.D. a former neighbor of Ronald W. Walters, Ph.D., who wanted to provide financial support to new and continuing doctoral students as they prepare to undertake future research endeavors. Thomas impressed the selection committee with her doctoral dissertation which focuses on the disenfranchisement of African Americans, and those stripped of their voting rights due, in large part, to the criminal justice system. "The selection committee was very impressed with Shannell's strong research background, both courses taken and practical experience,” says Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D., director of the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center. “I am delighted that her dissertation study on voter disenfranchisement of convicted felons aligns with Dr. Ronald Walters' interest in voter rights and voter suppression. In addition, her study is timely and related to research that the Ronald W. Walters Center conducts during every national election cycle. We look forward to having her join the Walters Center team." “By working on research projects, engaging in community service, and participating in public policy discussions at the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center, I expect to acquire skills and knowledge that will help me to achieve my ultimate career goal: serving as a role model and advisor for students and community members who are interested in ensuring that African Americans are better represented in our "representative" democracy,” says Thomas. During Summer 2019, she received the prestigious Hanes Walton, Jr. Award for Quantitative Methods Training by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists to attend the 8-week Statistics Institute at The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. She also plans to use this award to further advance her sociological and criminological training and pursue research and advocacy agendas. She would be completing her fourth degree at Howard; adding to what includes a Master of Arts from New York University, a Master of Education from University of South Florida, and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from University of South Florida. Thomas hopes to serve as an ambassador of Ronald W. Walter’s legacy by “encouraging the black community to recognize and assert the dynamism of its individual and collective political voices.” Her current work focuses on black political power, and black political movements that arise in response to America's criminal justice system. “In the future, I hope that my dissertation research will prove useful to those criminologists, sociologists and politicians who are interested in ensuring that America’s promises of liberty and equality remain at the forefront of political discourse,” says Thomas. “With the support of this generous award from Dr. Sargeant, I will have the opportunity to be guided and mentored by political powerhouses like Dr. Elsie Scott as I expand my knowledge of black socio-politics and my network of like-minded scholars.” # # # About the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center The Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center was established by Howard University to serve as a focal point for research, education and service-related public policy and leadership projects and activities related to the engagement of African Americans in the U.S. political process and in U.S. national and foreign policy. The Center is an interdisciplinary center that is preserving the legacy of Dr. Ronald Walters, a scholar-activist who conducted research, served as a mentor to students and political leaders, provided strategic direction and thinking in the political and civic arenas and was a prolific writer and political commentator. For more information on the programs of the Ronald Walters Center, visit About the Winslow Sargeant. Doctoral Award The Winslow Sargeant Doctoral Award is first of its kind and made possible by a gift from Winslow Sargeant, Ph.D., a former neighbor of the late Ronald Walters, Ph.D., who wanted to provide financial support to new and continuing doctoral students as they prepare to undertake future research endeavors. Winslow Sargeant, Ph.D., was an electrical engineer who served in the Obama Administration, and is presently the senior advisor for globalization and head of capital markets for Genaesis. About Howard University Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced one Schwarzman Scholar, three Marshall Scholars, four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, 25 Pickering Fellows and more than 165 Fulbright recipients. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, visit Media Contact: Imani Pope-Johns,


Statement from Dr. Elsie L. Scott, Director, The Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center on the Death of U.S. Representative John Lewis

I am truly saddened by the news of the passing of Rep. John Lewis, a freedom fighter who never gave up the fight despite the forces he had to confront such as racism and white supremacy, opposition politicians, and disease. He was a role model for people who see problems in society and want to do something about them. He believed in making trouble, “good trouble”.

I had the opportunity to interact with Mr. Lewis many times during my tenure as President and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF). He served on my board, and he participated in various activities we sponsored such as the Annual Legislative Conference. When I reflect on the events that are most etched in my memory, they involve his interaction with the CBCF interns. He loved engaging with young people and looked forward to participating in their events. Through our digital history, Avoice project, we interviewed members of the CBC. For his interview, the student interns were invited to be the audience, and he enjoyed meeting them and answering their questions. The communications interns participated in the Selma, Alabama Faith and Politics Pilgrimage in 2012. The interns were in the lobby of the hotel when he came through one evening. They introduced themselves, and instead of shaking hands and dismissing himself after a long day, he spent time with them that they will never forget. That was the type person he was.

Congressman Lewis leaves a whole body of accomplishments, but there is one unfinished task that we at the Walters Center hope that everyone who loved him will help get accomplished. The provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were invalidated by the Supreme Court decision, Shelby v. Holder need to be restored. Mr. Lewis did his part by fighting to get H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act passed in the House of Representatives, but it is sitting in the Senate. What a great tribute it would be to the late Congressman to have the Voting Rights Act restored to its original purpose during this legislative session.

We offer our condolences to Rep. Lewis’s family and Michael Collins and his congressional staff. May the country never forget the many contributions he made to making the U.S. a better place to live.



April 17th, 2020 


To Our Friends and Associates:

Please find attached the latest version of the Walters Center's News and Notes. We want you to know that despite the physical closing of Howard University due to the pandemic, we are busy keeping the work of the Center going. 

We regret that we had to postpone the Kemler lecture because we know many of you were looking forward to attending in person or virtually.  We will keep you updated on rescheduling the lecture.

Thank you for your continued support of the Walters Center. We wish you good health and safety during the pandemic.

Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D.

Director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership & Public Policy Center

Howard University


January 9, 2020




Dear Howard University Community,


I am pleased to announce Patricia Walters, the wife of legendary scholar and activist Ronald W. Walters, Ph.D., has gifted Howard University her coveted collection of African American art, valued at more than $2.5 million. Additionally, the University will establish the first Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics to continue Dr. Walters’ legacy and expand the University’s capacity as a leader in emerging scholarship in Black politics. 


Dr. Ronald Walters was recognized as a leading political strategist and expert on issues affecting the African diaspora. A dedicated leader, Walters served as a professor in Howard University’s Department of Political Science for 25 years and was department chair for nearly a decade. It is an incredible honor to receive this generous gift of precious art from the Walters family. 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.


The endowed chair will be housed in the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University. It is intended to spur interdisciplinary collaborations across the University on critical issues of race and Black politics, especially those issues that affect Americans of the African diaspora.


Dr. Walters was a giant among scholars at Howard University, nationally and internationally. This endowed chair is designed to be a reflection of his unique history as an activist, a political strategist, and a trailblazing academic professor. This gift comes at the perfect moment to expand our student’s involvement in the political conversations of our time.


The Walters’ gift of art includes 152 pieces of African American art of various forms. The collection includes original pieces, sculptures, rare prints, photographs, and pieces from notable eras, including the Harlem Renaissance. Mrs. Walters began her collection in the late 1980’s, amassing most of her pieces after 2002. It features artists like Robert S. DuncansonEdward M. BannisterGrafton Tyler BrownAaron Douglas, and Norman Lewis and Romare Bearden, as well as contemporary artists like Kehinde WileyBarkley Hendricks, Kerry James Marshall and others. 


More information about the art collection and endowed chair will be available during the spring semester. For more information about Dr. Ronald W. Walters, visit the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center website.

Excellence in Truth and Service,


Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA










Thursday, 2019, October 31 - 12:15pm


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By Dr. Elsie L. Scott, Director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership & Public Policy Center, Howard University

Rep. John Conyers, one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, passed on Sunday, October 27, 2019 at the age of 90. He filled many of those years with service to his constituents and advocacy around civil and human rights issues, criminal justice reform and other issues important to the African American community.  Mr. Conyers did not search for issues that would get him on the evening news or garner an article in the daily media. He attacked issues and problems because somebody needed to do it. He was a not a sprinter, but rather a long-distance runner who kept running despite the lack of mass support and defeats in Congress. He used his Congressional seat to fight for criminal justice reform and to address injustices. Some of the issues and cases he was involved in were the Attica, New York Prison Riots, the Wilmington Ten case, voting rights, racial profiling by police, reparations for the enslavement of African Americans and many more.

I got to know Rep. Conyers through my work at the Commission for Racial Justice of the United Church of Christ. I joined the Criminal Justice Braintrust that he chaired for the Congressional Black Caucus. He used the Braintrust to tap the resources and brain power of Black academics and activists in developing legislation and in highlighting issues disproportionately affecting the black community.

I was often invited to serve as a panelist on his annual Criminal Justice Braintrust issue forums and meetings during the CBCF Annual Legislative Conference (ALC). He was the type person who felt that everybody had a place at the table. Even though he would invite some of us to prepare presentations on current criminal justice issues, we often did not get the opportunity to make our presentations because people walked in the room who he felt needed to be heard also. This frustrated me as well as his staff members such as Bill Kirk, Cedric Hendricks and Keenan Keller, but it did not stop him from hearing from everyone who had something to say.

He served on the House Judiciary Committee where through the seniority system, he rose to the chairmanship. He took Congressional hearings out of Washington, DC to cities where he could hear from people who could not come to Washington to present their concerns. For example, he enraged New York Mayor Ed Koch when he scheduled hearings in New York City in 1983 to hear allegations of police brutality against black and Hispanic New Yorkers. In 2015, he was still using the Judiciary Committee to address police misconduct when he scheduled hearings after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody.

One of my most memorable times with Rep. Conyers came in January 2008. I was President and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and we were working with the Woodrow Wilson Center to plan a Martin Luther King Day program. Mr. Conyers was invited to speak about the making of the Holiday from the work he did on and off the Hill, and Denise Rolark Barnes from the Washington Informer, Moses Boyd, a former Senate staffer and I joined him on the panel. (Rep. Conyers introduced the MLK Holiday bill every legislative session beginning in 1968, and he continued until it passed and was signed in 1983.) I was a little concerned that Mr. Conyers would be late or may not appear at all since he had to fly back from Detroit on a holiday weekend. Not only did he make in time for the live broadcast, but he was early. I am so happy that we got him on video and people throughout the world can here the story in his words.

His love of jazz and his concern about its preservation inspired him to inaugurate a jazz issue forum during ALC.  At first it was a discussion like the other issue forums, but he started inviting some of the local jazz artists to “blow” a little. This expanded to a mini jazz set, and by the time I became CEO, he was bringing in top jazz artists. Our finance department flagged it as an activity where we were losing money, and I was given the task of trying to get Mr. Conyers to help us address the problem. His planning committee was scrambling to find sponsors because they knew that he wanted the forum and concert to be open to the public. We scheduled a meeting to discuss how we could stop losing money on the event. When we walked into his office the mood was set with jazz CDs playing in the background. When we sat down, he produced a bottle of champagne with champagne glasses. Needless to say, we left with no agreement, but we had enjoyed the jazz afternoon.

Rep. Conyers was a true fighter for the people who often had an unorthodox way of doing things, but he was persistent. He was a big actor in African American history for the past 50+ years and we all have benefited from his service. I am glad I had an opportunity to work with him and reap the benefits of his work.  I offer my condolences to his family and his former staff members.


Statement from the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center, Howard University on the Passing of Representative Elijah Cummings






Friday, 2019, October 25 - 4:00pm

We were deeply saddened to receive the news of the passing of Rep. Elijah Cummings. Mr. Cummings has been a part of the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center since its inception. A graduate of the Howard University Department of Political Science and a student of Dr. Ronald Walters, Rep. Cummings gladly accepted a position as member of advisory board of the Center. He offered advice on the programs for the Center and was one of the speakers for the Ronald Walters Legacy Conference in 2013. He credited Dr. Walters with being a role model and with helping him get focused when he was a Howard undergraduate.

He has left a record in Congress and in life of hard work, humility, principles, compassion, commitment to the needs of his constituents, and devotion to making a difference. Students were inspired when they heard him talk about being a descendant of former sharecroppers and of growing up in challenging circumstances in Baltimore and being placed in special education. They were inspired by his statements such as: “ When I became a lawyer, no one asked me if I had spent some time in special ed. All they wanted was a good lawyer.”  

 In Congress, he rose to become the chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee. He was voted to the position because his colleagues knew he was the right person to take on the role of holding the executive branch accountable for its actions. He set a good example for Howard University and other students interested in public office. He was thorough in his preparation, fair to his colleagues and persons appearing before his committee, but at the same time he never wavered from being firm and from seeking the truth. Earlier this year, in remarks at the end of Michael Cohen’s testimony, Mr. Cummings stated:  “When we’re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked…what did we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?” We know that he will be able to answer that he worked until the end. This is the example that he left for us.

Dr. Elsie Scott, Director of the Walters Center stated that Mr. Cummings was supportive of her in her former position as president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and in her current position. “He was always willing to offer assistance by attending events, offering advice and promoting the Foundation and the Center. Last year he came out on a rainy night with his walker to fulfil his promise to speak at the release of the CPAR Journal. That was who he was, and this is the reason why he will be deeply missed.” 

Mrs. Patricia Turner Walters, widow of Dr. Walters and chair of the advisory board of the Walters Center stated that the news of the passing of Rep. Cummings is “devastating”. She noted that just like Dr. Walters was special to Mr. Cummings, so was Mr. Cummings special to Dr. Walters. “We have lost a giant in our lives—a giant for Truth and Justice. He has now joined the ancestors, and Ron will be the first to greet him.” 

Our condolences go out to Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, his widow, and to the rest of his family as well as to his congressional staff members who were his second family.    


Media Contact(s): 

Carolyn R. Smith

Administrative Coordinator

(202) 865-8550


Remembering Ronald W. "Ron" Walters, Ph.D. (July 20, 1938 – September 10, 2010) - American Author, Speaker and Renowned Scholar of African-American Politics



It has been nine years since Dr. Ronald W. Walters joined the ancestors. Since that time, we have been working to ensure that his contributions to Howard University and to the global black community are preserved in history.


One of the first steps taken by Mrs. Patricia Turner Walters, his widow, was to create an endowed scholarship in his name at Howard University. Friends contributed funds in his memory, and Mrs. Walters contributed additional funds for the $10,000 needed to create an endowed scholarship. Since an endowed scholarship can only issue funds from the interest earned, Mrs. Walters created another scholarship fund so she could immediately start awarding scholarships.


In 2013, the first Ronald Walters Scholarship was awarded to Brittney Ewing a native of Mableton, GA during the Ronald Walters Legacy Conference, sponsored by the newly established Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center. Since that time,  five scholarships have been awarded to political science undergraduates at Howard University.


Will you help us continue to build on the legacy of Dr. Walters by providing financial support for the next generation of scholar-activists?  Please use this link to make your tax-deductible on-line contribution to the Ronald Walters Scholarship Fund: - Click on Designation, Other (Ronald Walters Scholarship Fund).


You may also contribute to the work of the Walters Center by making an online contribution. Be certain to specify the Ronald Walters Scholarship Fund or Walters Center. Please send us a notification of your contribution to so that we may acknowledge receipt. 


It is with collaboration, volunteer assistance and financial support from friends like you that we have been able to sustain and grow the Walters Center.  I am excited to be back at the Center after taking a sabbatical year at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.  I thank Dr. Michael K. Fauntroy for serving as acting director, Mrs. Patricia Walters for continued service as chair of our advisory board and to President Wayne A.I. Frederick and Provost Anthony Wutoh for their support of the Center.


We are kicking off this academic year with a School Choice Forum on Wednesday, September 11, 6:30 p.m. at Metropolitan AME Church. (You should have received a flyer last week.) This forum, a collaborative project with other Howard University Departments and programs, is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. We are planning other programs and events for this academic year that you will want to attend.  Look for information in future mailings from the Walters Center.


With Warm Regards,


Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D.

Director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center

Howard University




In Memoriam

Ronald V. Dellums, Former Visiting Fellow, Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center


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Ronald V. Dellums served as the first Visiting Fellow at the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center during the 2013-2014 school year. The Visiting Fellowship is designed to bring former public officials to the Center to share experiences with the Howard University community. Mr. Dellums was the ideal candidate because he served as the U.S. Representative for the 13th Congressional District of California for 27 years and as Mayor of the city of Oakland, California for one term. During his service in Congress, he was known for his outspoken activism around many issues, including antiwar and peace and the anti-apartheid movement. He served as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, using that platform to highlight the needs and policy agendas of the African American community and of his Bay Area constituents.

During the year he spent at the Walters Center, he actively engaged with students who were curious about the political movements that he had lived through and his role in bringing about political change. Students, undergraduate, graduate and professional students sought him out to speak with him about their research, their political ambitions and about being a black man in the United States. He had sessions with the male students in Drew and Carver Halls. Professors from the Law School various departments in the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Social Work requested his participation as a guest lecturer in their classes.

After his Black History Month speech at the Blackburn Center, students waited in line for up to an hour to get an autographed book and meet this giant of a legend. He generously donated copies of his book, Lying Down with the Lions, to the University for distribution to students. Each student in the classes where he lectured received a copy of the book, and students who attended lectures also received the book.

He was old enough to be a grandfather or even great grandfather to many students, but he was able to relate to them. The characterized him as a “cool dude.”

He did not write the reflection paper on his years of public service as we requested, but we did get tapes of some of his speeches and interviews.  They will become a part of the archives of the Walters Center.

One of the things that he stressed to the students who were interested in public service was not losing a connection to your family. He said he regretted spending so much time doing the “people’s work” and not spending enough time with his family. We remember his children and express our sincere condolences to them and to his wife, Cynthia. He loved his family and hoped that they knew that he did.

Dr. Elsie L. Scott, Director

Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center

Howard University


Scholar in Residence

During the spring and summer of 2016, the Ronald W. Walters Center hosted its first scholar-in-residence, Dr. Pearl K. Ford Dowe, Professor at the University of Arkansas, Department of Political Science.  Dr. Dowe, who received her Ph.D. from Howard University, conducted research for her book on Black women in politics, with a special emphasis on Black women serving in the U.S. Congress. She conducted guest lectures and participated in activities sponsored by the Walters Center and the Department of Political Science.  Dr. Dowe was interviewed by the University of the District of Columbia television station (UDC-TV) to discuss Sister Strength, The Social, Economic and Political Black Women.  Listen to the interview.



Ronald Walters Scholarship

Zha’Mari Hurley, a 3.77 GPA graduate from Jersey City, NJ, was selected by the Ronald W. Walters Center and the Department of Political Science to receive the 2016 Ronald Walters Scholarship. The scholarship was established to recognize outstanding full-time juniors or seniors enrolled in the Department of Political Science at Howard University. Ms. Hurley’s future career goal is to create educational programs and policies that will overall enhance the urban youth’s ability to compete for careers and opportunities on an international level.

The Walters Scholarship has been supported primarily from donations by Mrs. Patricia Turner Walters, widow of Dr. Walters. You may contribute to the scholarship by contributing online at:


Dr. Elsie Scott and Mrs. Patricia Walters with Zha”Mari Hurley, 2016 Walters Scholarship Recipient

Dr. Elsie Scott and Mrs. Patricia Walters with Zha”Mari Hurley, 2016 Walters Scholarship Recipient


Walters Center Student Assistants Receive Degrees

Nicolette C. Cabbell, Howard University 2016 graduate, a New York native, Sports Medicine major with a minor in Chemistry, served as a student assistant at the Walters Center during her sophomore and senior years.  Ms. Cabbell stated that working at the Walters Center helped her grow and become more aware of critical issues affecting the African American community.  Being a part of the Center gave her exposure to current African American leaders, both men and women in a mixture of fields including education, public policy, research and many more. 

Paula Thomason, M.S.W., 2016 Graduate, School of Social Work, served as a graduate assistant at the Walters Center.  Ms. Thomason, a California native, stated that the Center gave her the opportunity to participate in research designed to improve police practices.  With focus groups as its primary source of data, this project’s qualitative data collection method also strengthened her experience with dialogue-oriented research.  She stated that her curriculum emphasized why researching social problems not only allows social work practitioners to expand their knowledge within a practice area, but it also benefits clients and society from a policy and legislative level.

Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) Mandela Fellowship Program

Howard University was selected as one of the host sites for the YALI Mandela Fellow Program for the third straight year. The Walters Center has served as a partner in the program since its inception. During the summer of 2016, Dr. Elsie Scott, Director of the Walters Center, served as Academic Director.  Twenty-five young professionals from sub-Saharan Africa spent six weeks participating in a Public Management Institute at Howard.  The Walters Center helped organized lectures, educational experiences outside the classroom and cultural experiences for the fellows.


President Wayne A.I. Frederick and Provost Anthony Wutoh with the 2016 Mandela Fellows and Howard University staff