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Ronald Walters, professor and political analyst, dies at 72

September 12, 2010 |  6:28 pm

Ronald W. Walters, a longtime political analyst and scholar at Howard University and the University of Maryland who was a leading expert on race and politics, has died. He was 72.

Walters died Friday night after an illness, University of Maryland spokesman Lee Tune said Saturday. He had lung cancer.

Walters spent 25 years at Howard before becoming director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland. He wrote numerous books and more than 100 articles.

University of Maryland Law Professor Georgia Sorenson said Walters was a thoughtful and independent scholar. He followed politics closely and was thrilled to see President Obama's election, she said.

"He felt it was very important to continue to focus on African Americans" in politics, Sorenson said. "He didn't think it was done yet.… This was really his deepest passion."

In 1984, Walters served as a deputy campaign manager for the Rev. Jesse Jackson's presidential bid. He consulted on Jackson's second campaign in 1988 and advised members of Congress over the years, said California Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

On Saturday, Lee called Walters a "scholarly giant" and a "man whose academic record and analytical insights have contributed to America's understanding of the intersection of race, politics and policy."

Walters was a frequent commentator. He spoke up recently when Glenn Beck staged a rally Aug. 28 at the Lincoln Memorial on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.

Beck's rally was "taking a slap at the movement," Walters told the Afro-American Newspapers. "They really want to dishonor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King's March on Washington in 1963 to give it a conservative spin," he said.

--Associated Press