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Walters Center Programs

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Visiting Scholars/Visiting Researchers

The Visiting Scholars Program brings established and junior scholars from other universities to Howard University or will facilitate the assignment of Howard University professors to the Center to conduct research related to the mission of the Ronald Walters Center. Persons interested in serving as a Visiting Researchers should be graduate-level students who want to spend time at the Center to work on their dissertations or on research related to the mission of the Center. The researchers can be Howard University students or they can be enrolled at another accredited university. The length of the visits ranges from one semester to an academic year.

In 2016, Dr. Pearl K. Ford Dowe, an associate professor of Political Science at the University of Arkansas at the time, served as the first Visiting Scholar. During her tenure at the center, she conducted research on the political behavior of African American Women. Dr. Dowe, who received received her Ph.D. in political science from Howard University in 2003, is the co-author of Remaking the Democratic Party: Lyndon B. Johnson as Native-Son Presidential Candidate  (2016) and the editor ofAfrican Americans in Georgia: A Reflection of Politics and Policy Reflection in the New South (2010).

Public Policy Sessions

The Walters Center holds periodic sessions with students, faculty, community, government and nonprofit leaders designed for engagement around issues affecting the black community such as health equity, quality education, and job creation. These sessions are in line with Dr. Walters’ role of bringing together African Americans of different ideologies and institutional affiliations to develop common agendas and strategies for serious programs devoted to bettering the conditions of African peoples.

The first session was a national conference on the legacy of Dr. Ronald Walters held on October 10-11, 2013 at Howard University. This conference brought together students, faculty,  elected officials, policy analysts, journalists and activists to discuss the impact of Dr. Walters on the academy, public policy formation, politics and political change.  In assessing his legacy, the conferees deliberated the implications of Walters' academic and journalistic writings, classroom lectures, mentoring of college students, and his engagement in civic and political activism. 

Over the years, the Walters Center has sponsored  or co-sponsored a number of policy sessions focused on current and/or historical issues that affect the global black community. The sessions have been lectures by visiting fellows and scholars, elected officials and academicians, as well as panel discussions featuring elected officials, academicians, activists, journalists and students. Some of the sessions have been discussions of books written by Walters' former students, including a political biography of Walters, Ronald W. Walters and the Fight for Black Power,  1969-2010 written by Dr. Robert Smith.    

Five-Fifths Agenda for America

Under a sub-grant from the Southern University System (SUS) Foundation, the Ronald W. WaltersLeadership and Public Policy Center is conducting research and evaluating the effectiveness of the Honoré Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement (HCUSA) located at Southern University New Orleans (SUNO). HCUSA is an initiative designed to address two important national challenges: reversing the trend of fewer African American male students attending and graduating from college while the numbers being incarcerated are on the rise, and increasing the number of African American male classroom teachers.  The students recruited to participate in HCUSA are “at-risk Black males” graduates of New Orleans area high schools. HCUSA was designed with a residential component to provide a holistic and supportive living-learning environment. The Walters Center was selected to be the outside evaluator. The evaluation is focused on determining the strengths and weaknesses of the Honoré Center and assessing the continued viability and success of the Honoré Center. The findings of the evaluation are being used by the HonoréCenter to make changes that will improve the effectiveness and success of the Center.   

In 2018, the SUS created a similar project at Southern University in Shreveport, the Williams Center for Undergraduate Student Achievement (WCUSA).  The goal of WCUSA is to increase the enrollment, retention, and graduation rates for minority males at SUSLA. The students who are part of the Center are given academic support, mentorship opportunities, and  they participate in community service projects. The Walters Center will evaluate the Williams Center programs and submit recommendations for improvements.  

The Edgar J. Kemler Lecture

In March 2019, the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center launched the Inaugural Edgar Kemler Lecture. The annual lecture brings a speaker who is a prominent person to Howard's campus to speak on  a topic related to Public Policy, Politics, Government or Political Science. The 2019 speaker was U.S. Representative Jahana Hayes, the first African-American woman and African-American Democrat to represent Connecticut in Congress. Prior to serving in Congress, she was a schoolteacher who won the 2016 National Teacher of the Year award.

The lecture is made possible by a gift from Jamie and Paula Kemler in honor of Jamie’s father, Edgar Kemler. Edgar Kemler was an Instructor of Government at Howard University from 1957 until his death in 1960. Prior to joining the faculty at Howard, Mr. Kemler had taught Political Science at Harvard University, where he earned a master’s degree in Public Administration in 1941. Mr. Kemler, an author, who wrote a biography of H.L. Mencken entitled The Irreverent Mr. Mencken and The Deflation of American Ideals, was a Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine from 1954 to 1956.

Visiting Fellows

Visiting Fellows will be former elected or appointed officials who would like to share their expertise with the Center through research or publications or by managing a leadership program. Fellows will be expected to prepare a research product or manage a leadership program during their tenure, which can range from a summer to school year. Visiting fellows will also be expected to offer guest lectures and participate in Center-sponsored activities.


Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Under a grant, awarded by the Southern University System Foundation, the Walters Center held a conference on black male achievement and the school-to-prison pipeline on May 12, 2016.  The focus of the day was on creating a policy and legislative agenda to address the school-to-prison pipeline.  The convening was one effort to bring truth to the national conversation around black male academic achievement and stopping the prison pipeline.  The 40 invitees included Black male achievement scholars and other academicians, as well as program specialists.  Legislators from states currently engaged in legislative activity on these topics were also invited to share strategies for passing timely and focused legislation.  A report of the proceedings was published by the Center.

The grant also provided funding for a review of state legislation designed to address issues related to the school-to-prison pipeline.  The literature showed a pattern of increasing suspensions and expulsions after the adoption of less discretionary policies and legislation by school districts and state legislations beginning in 1970s.  Media reports, however, had shown that mass incarceration and its negative impact on state budgets could be persuading legislators to rethink zero tolerance legislation and other legislation that could increase the population of correctional facilities.  During the study period (2008-2015), it was found that slowing down and reducing mass incarceration was emerging as an initiative that crossed political party lines.


Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline Forum, May 12, 2016

Southern University System Foundation CEO Alfred Harrell, Honore Center student Louis Blackmon III, Walters Center Director Dr. Elsie Scott and Honore Center Director Warren Bell at the Stopping the School-to-Prison Pipeline Forum, May 12, 2016 



Engaging College Students in 21st Century Law Enforcement

In a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Oriented Policing Services office (COPS), the Walters Center is working to advance the implementation of community policing by engaging college students in issues related to racial diversity and community mistrust of law enforcement. The Center has conducted focus groups on four college campuses—Howard University, Dillard University (New Orleans), Chicago State University and Merritt College (Oakland, CA). The focus groups were designed to garner opinions from African American college students regarding recruiting and selecting police officers who will effectively serve diverse communities. The project is designed to support the implementation of recommendations from President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Graduate Assistant Naya Young and Director Scott with Dr. Gary Clark, focus group coordinator, Dillard University

Graduate Assistant Naya Young and Director Scott with Dr. Gary Clark, focus group coordinator, Dillard University

On October 5, 2016, the Walters Center, in partnership with the COPS Office, hosted an important one-day forum on Youth and Police: Finding Common Ground. Students from Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia spent most of the day engaged in dialogue with law enforcement officials on diversity in law enforcement and engaging black college students in improving law enforcement agencies. During the afternoon, Attorney General Loretta Lynch convened a mini-town hall session with the attendees and other Howard University students.

Participants suggested that the police recruitment process should be reviewed to look at ways it can be more welcoming to black candidates. It was also suggested that there should be more recruiters who can relate to black applicants. When asked what young adults want from law enforcement, the student participants agreed that they want respect, transparency, and accountability from officers. However, they felt that police officers instill a sense of fear when they interact with members of the black community. They also wanted more empathy from officers when a black person is killed by a police officer.

Finding Common Ground participants with Attorney General Lynch and President Wayne A.I. Frederick

Finding Common Ground participants with Attorney General Lynch and President Wayne A.I. Frederick

Civic Engagement

Dr. Scott participated in a workshop on black voters sponsored by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation in July. The workshop was held in Philadelphia to attract delegates attending the Democratic National Convention (DNC). Dr. Scott and two graduate assistants attended the meeting of the Black Caucus of the DNC.


Dr. Scott with Graduate Assistants, Joe Grant & Naya Young

Dr. Scott with Graduate Assistants, Joe Grant & Naya Young

The Walters Center assisted the Howard University Graduate Political Science Association (HUGPSA) with their Voter Protection Project (VP2) during the general election of 2016.  HUGPSA organized students to participate in poll watching and the administration of exit polls in Cleveland, Ohio and Greensboro and Charlotte, North Carolina.  Dr. Scott, and Drs. Lorenzo Morris and Alvin Thornton of the Department of Political Science served as advisors to the group helping to connect them with resources and providing training for the group of undergraduate and graduate students who participated.  Two Fellows from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) also participated in VP2.


On November 8, 2016, The Walters Center, in conjunction with the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), hosted the Ronald Walters Command Center (RWCC) on the campus of Howard University.  The RWCC tracked voter suppression issues and problems at the polls and monitored Black voter turnout and voting patterns with the assistance of on-the-ground teams. Special attention was given to African American candidates and ballot initiatives resonating with the African American community.


Election Day Command Center

Ronald Walters Election Day Command Center, November 8, 2016