Dr. King's Chief of Staff almost made 'tragic mistake' - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Dr. King's Chief of Staff almost made 'tragic mistake' leading to historic march


One of the men who knew Dr. Martin Luther King best lives in Central Virginia. Dr. Wyatt Walker, a civil rights ambassador in his own right, also served as Chief of Staff for Dr. King. He held that position during the historic March on Washington. Walker believes King would still be fighting if he were alive today.

Perhaps no one remembers the images from the March on Washington better than 85-year-old Dr. Wyatt Walker.

"We weren't afraid of dying. We never thought about it. We knew it could happen anytime," he said.

As Chief of Staff, Walker almost made what he says would have been a "tragic mistake."

"I tried to persuade Dr. King not to use the 'I Have a Dream' section of his speech, because I thought we used it so many times in so many cities that I thought it was trite," he said.

"Are you glad he didn't listen to you that day?" we asked.

"I am glad. I am so glad…I would have robbed the nation of the most important oration of the 20th century," Walker said.

He also recalls organizing a rally at the Landmark Theatre in Richmond - then known as The Mosque – in protest of Virginia school closings over integration battles. Dr. King could not attend but sent a recorded address.

At a facility that usually had separate seating for blacks and whites, at this event, attendees could sit wherever they wanted.

Following that event, Walker and 1800 others marched to the state capitol.

"We marched from The Mosque in the rain and the snow…The guards at the state capitol had machine guns on us as we had our prayer service," he recalled.

The protest remained non-violent and so did the remainder of Walker's journey - shared with an icon to the nation, but a friend to this civil rights ambassador.

"If Dr. King were alive today, would he be pleased?" we asked.

"Somewhat pleased, but he'd still be working to try to establish justice in the land," Walker answered.

This weekend, a group of Walker's supporters will march in Petersburg to name the new library being built right now after Dr. King's Chief of Staff.

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