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With deep sadness I reflect upon the passing of the Rev. Lucius Walker, an African-American minister and stalwart for peace and social justice. He will probably not be mentioned in many media outlets because there were no sound bites to grab and twist into something that Conservatives could accept.
Rev. Walker was the closest thing to an ordained radical you could find in America. I met Rev. Walker once during one of his visits to Milwaukee as Executive Director of Pastors for Peace. It was probably after the fall of the Soviet Union and Cuba was really hurting. I was excited that an African-American with roots in Milwaukee and fighting poverty should become so deeply committed to Cuba.
Rev. Walker completed a Master’s degree in Social Work, and helped to found Northcott Neighborhood House on the North side of Milwaukee. He also served as Executive Director of Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) and Pastor’s for Peace. Pastors foe Peace directly challenged American policy toward the island nation of Cuba.
From the Pastors for Peace website I found this information: ” Pastors for Peace works with the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center in Havana, the Cuban Council of Churches and a distribution committee with representatives from ten different Cuban denominations to deliver US-Cuba Friendshipments. These humanitarian aid shipments mitigate the impact of the embargo and mobilize thousands of US citizens in favor of an alternative. We call for an end to the embargo and normalization of relations between our two countries.The US embargo of Cuba causes shortages of food, medicine and other important supplies for eleven million people. The embargo is an immoral policy that uses hunger and disease as political weapons
As a matter of principle, the Friendshipment refuses to apply for a license under the terms of the embargo. To do so would be a de facto recognition of an immoral policy. From 1992 to 1995, Pastors for Peace delivered five Friendshipments to Cuba. All encountered resistance from US officials, but arrived safely in Cuba after those officials backed down. These are examples of the impact that people can have when they are organized, motivated and determined. Speaking truth to power and standing firm in the face of injustice are central to the work of Pastors for Peace.”
The Central organizing point in Milwaukee was the Central United Methodist Church at 25th and Wisconsin and the effort was organized by the Committee to Normalize Relations with Cuba. I found it remarkable that so many people with ties to the religious community would want help our poor neighbors to the South.
Even after the special period, as Cuba developed organic agriculture and became more self-sufficient in food production, there were people who retained their support for good will and an end to imperial domination which stemmed from the Platt Amendment all through the 20th Century. The rulers of America could not accept that Cuba, as poor as it was, did not want to become another wholly owned American subsidiary.
I see nothing but gratitude from Cuba for the work of Lucius Walker and sorrow at his death. He lived 80 years and organized his last Friendshipment just a few weeks ago. Find something to which you can be committed. Find something that will help persons who have less than the average American and stick to it. It does not need to be your entire life’s commitment and it may be building upon something created by someone like Rev. Lucius Walker that builds people to people relations. Let justice enter your heart.
With deep sorrow. we share with you the news that Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr. passed away this week due to a heart attack at age 80. His daughter Gail wrote us that he was about to embark on a trip to Angola, for a conference related to Cuba and its work. No words can express the loss of this modern day prophet: founder of many organizations in Milwaukee including Northcott Neighborhood House; former Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the United States; and probably the best loved US citizen in Cuba, who put his life and health on the line to challenge the US economic blockade, and also told a million people in Cuba that its retention of the death penalty did not honor its revolution. But positive work and organizing can help speed his dream of a just society, with friendship to our neighbors, regardless of color, creed, or if they have followed an alternative path to human development, as in the case of Cuba. We present below some of the tributes to Lucius, including what we sent to share with him for his surprise 80th birthday party in Harlem just a few weeks ago – Art Heitzer
II. You are invited to join us this Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 7pm, at Milwaukee’s Central United Methodist Church, 639N. 25th St. (at Wisconsin Avenue, free off street parking south of the church): for a discussion of Cuba’s recent agreement with the Catholic Church to release virtually all “political prisoners,” what this means for US relations, including a new Cuban/Irish film & discussion film as to who are “political prisoners” in different contexts, including Cuba. For more info, see www.wicuba.org.
Below is the announcement from IFCO/Pastors for Peace, followed by a few of the numerous tributes to Lucius and reports (including Top News from CBS), beginning with our introduction based on his critical contributions to Milwaukee and Wisconsin. Our summary below also includes:
1. Our greetings sent from Milwaukee for Lucius’ Surprise 80th Birthday party last month (including a link to when he made it in Billboard, but not based on his singing!)
2. Cuban Christians Regret Death of Lucius Walker (Cuban Council of Churches)
3. A collection from Rights Action/LASC, including from Fr. Blase Bonpane & from Granma International (“We Do Not Want to Think of a World without Lucius Walker”)
From IFCO / Pastors for Peace:
It is with immeasurable sadness that we write to let you know of the passing of our beloved, heroic, prophetic leader Rev. Lucius Walker Jr. this morning. Please keep his family and his IFCO family in your prayers.
IFCO will make sure that messages sent to this email address reach Lucius’s family: email@example.com