Chesterfield to rename county library after civil rights leader Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker

Posted at 6:03 AM, Oct 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-22 08:59:30-04

CHESTER, Va. — Chesterfield County will rename the Enon Library and dedicate the building in honor of the late pastor, humanitarian, theologian, and cultural historian Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker.

Dr. Walker is best known for his tenure as chief of staff to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., carries books as he heads toward the airplane that was to take him from Atlanta to Birmingham, Oct. 30, 1967 where he faced a 5-day jail for parading against court orders during 1963 civil rights demonstrations in Alabama. With King for the trip - and the jail term - were, from left, the Rev. A.D. King, Ralph Abernathy and Wyatt Tee Walker.

During the same period, Walker joined the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and worked as its first full-time executive director.

He previously had served as president of the Petersburg chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and as state director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

He was also a founder of the Virginia Council on Human Relations, a biracial group working for desegregation.

In 1961, Dr. Walker and his wife, Theresa, volunteered as Freedom Riders in an effort to enforce the Interstate Commerce Act, which declared that segregation in interstate transportation facilities was illegal.

Walker received more than 100 awards and citations for his work in human relations and civil rights.

The Walkers relocated to Chester from New York where he served as senior pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ until 2004.

The Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker responds to questions during a news interview Friday, Jan. 16, 2004, in Yonkers, N.Y. Walker served as a right-hand man to Martin Luther King Jr. during his struggles for civil rights.

He died in January 2018 at the age of 89.

“To say that this gentleman lives in the Bermuda district of Chesterfield County in Virginia — that speaks volumes for Chesterfield County,” Kimberly Conley, assistant director for Chesterfield County’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, said.

Both Conley and Chris Winslow, chairman of the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, hope the library renaming will lead to more people learning Walker's legacy.

Joseph Lowery, Wyatt Tee Walker
Civil Rights leaders Joseph Lowery, left, and Wyatt Tee Walker, right, take to the podium during a rally at the National Press Club in Washington, Tuesday, July 2, 2008 to present a retrospective of where the nation has come in the 45 years since Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

“Renaming the library building is not only an expression of our community’s rich history but also a memorial to the dedicated and inspirational man Dr. Walker was. It is my hope that the next generation visiting the library will see his name and seek to learn more about him and his positive impact on America,” Winslow said.

Chesterfield’s 2022 Community Facilities Bond Plan includes $17 million to replace the current 4,000-square-foot Enon Library with a modern 25,000-square-foot facility. If the bond referendum is approved by voters in the Nov. 8 general election, the new Enon Library building also will be named for Dr. Walker.

The renaming ceremony for Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at 1801 Enon Church Road in Chester.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.

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