Press Release  January 10, 2020

Howard University Receives Major Gift of African American Art

Howard University

Elizabeth Catlett, Glory, c. 1960. Bronze.

WASHINGTON – Internationally renowned scholar and activist Ronald W. Walters, Ph.D. 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. In honor of Walters’ legacy, his wife, Patricia Turner Walters, is gifting Howard University with her coveted collection of African American art, valued at $2,519,950.  

“It is an incredible honor to receive this generous gift of precious art from the Walters family,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick. “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.”

Additionally, the University will establish the first Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics to continue Walters’ legacy of expanding the University’s capacity as a leader in emerging scholarship in Black politics. The 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 here at Howard University, nationally and internationally, and 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 students’ involvement in the political conversations of our time,” said Frederick.

howard university

Robert S. Duncanson untitled landscape.

The 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.

“I could not be more delighted about the decision to give my art collection to Howard, the institution that my husband cared so deeply about,” said Walters. “I always knew I wanted to do something like this to honor my husband’s legacy, but I never imagined that I would get to see it happen in my lifetime. I am grateful to President Frederick for working with me to make this possible. I could not be happier.” 

Patricia Walters began her collection in the late 1980s, amassing most of her pieces after 2002. The collection, dear to the Walters family, became a notable part of the couple’s collective legacy as people in their community reveled at the collection over the years. It features artists like Robert S. DuncansonEdward M. BannisterGrafton Tyler BrownAaron DouglasNorman Lewis and Romare Bearden, as well as contemporary artists like Kehinde WileyBarkley HendricksKerry James Marshall and others. 

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

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