Howard University will expand its collection of Black art with the help of a major contribution from the family of late scholar and activist Ronald W. Walters, Ph.D. According to the university, his wife Patricia Turner Walters gifted the Washington, D.C.-based HBCU with a collection of African American art that is worth over $2 million.
Dr. Walters—an academic whose work was centered on the intersection of race and politics—served as a professor within the university’s political science department for almost three decades and sat at the helm of the department as chairman for nearly ten years. The former professor—whose roots in activism began in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas as president of the local youth chapter of the NAACP and led him to create impactful political campaigns and pen award-winning books later in his career—passed away in 2010. His wife wanted to gift the university with her art collection to keep his legacy alive.
The collection—which is valued at $2,519,950—features 152 pieces of art. Sculptures, photographs, and other forms of work that highlight the Black experience across different eras are included. The collection includes work from artists Romare Bearden, Norman Lewis, Aaron Douglas, Barkley Hendricks, Kehinde Wiley, and Kerry James Marshall.
“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 in a statement. “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.” Leaders at Howard are thankful for her contribution. President Wayne A. I. Frederick says it will be instrumental in fostering conversations about history and politics. Howard University will also create the Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics that will live in the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center.
The donation from Walters comes a month after the university received a $4 million gift from the Hopper-Dean Foundation to further its STEM education initiatives.