The Dr. and Mrs. Wyatt T. Walker Collection


  • Taylor McNeilly



Wyatt Tee Walker died in January 2018. Deservedly celebratory obituaries in major newspapers noted his heroic efforts as a leader in the Civil Rights Movement, as an aide and confidant to Martin Luther King Jr., as an internationally renowned activist against South African apartheid, and as chair of the Central Harlem Local Development Corporation. Yet they barely scratch the surface of the networks of accompaniment, instruction, apprenticeship, and affiliation that made his life meaningful. Fortunately, there is a full archive of the rich complexity of Walker’s life at the University of Richmond Boatwright Library. It contains a treasure trove of works of visual art, recorded music, audio- and videotaped speeches, books, miscellaneous objects, and the remarkable Music Tree image that Walker created to depict visually the history of Black music. Kalfou solicited a description of that collection from archivist Taylor McNeilly. We publish it in this issue in the hope that the archive will be accessed regularly and fully by the academics, artists, and activists who read this journal, and that they will find in it ways to appreciate the range and scope of Walker’s achievements and to emulate them through immersion in the plural and diverse activities that make the Black Radical Tradition possible.