Lucius Walker, Jr., a respected former Milwaukee pastor and activist who was the founding director of Northcott Neighborhood House, died last Wednesday at his home in Demarest, N.J. after suffering a heart attack in his sleep. He was 80.
A native of Roselle, N.J. Walker came to Milwaukee in the 1950s. Though still a theology student, he was called to pastor Hulburt Baptist Church, which was an all-white congregation located on the south side. He was also a youth director of the Milwaukee Christian Center, also on the south side.
Walker earned his master of divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School. He also earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Walker was very active in Milwaukee’s early civil rights scene, challenging racism whenever and whereever he came upon it in what those who knew him described as a calm and methodical manner. In 1967, Walker reportedly witnessed an off-duty Milwaukee police officer making an arrest. Refusing to heed an order to move along, Walker was also arrested.
Walker fought the charges, winning the case on an appeal. During his initial trial, hundreds of local priests, ministers and nuns packed the courtroom to support him. In 1988, while leading a humanitarian mission in Nicaragua, Walker was one of a dozen people wounded when the Mission of Peace passenger boat they were on was attacked by contra rebels.
The experience inspired Walker to found Pastors for Peace, which became part of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO), an ecumenical group that works for peace and social justice.
In 1992, Walker began defying the United State’s blockade of Cuba by leading “Friendshipment” caravans that contained medical supplies and other humanitarian aid to the communist island nation. Funeral services will be held for Walker in New York on Friday.–Compiled by MCJ Staff