Howard University Receives $2.5 Million Gift of African American Art

Patricia Turner Walters has donated her coveted collection of African American art, valued at $2,519,950, to Howard University recently. Her husband, the renowned scholar and activist Ronald W. Walters, Ph.D., was recognized as a leading political strategist and expert on issues affecting the African diaspora.

Walters had served as a professor in Howard University’s Department of Political Science for 25 years and was the department chair for almost a decade. In order to continue and expand Walters’ legacy, Howard University will establish the Ronald W. Walters Endowed Chair for Race and Black Politics. The chair will be housed in the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University. It will spur interdisciplinary collaborations across the school on many of the diverse issues of race and black politics, especially those issues that affect Americans of the African diaspora. 

“It is an incredible honor to receive this generous gift of precious art from the Walters family,” said President Wayne A. I. Frederick in a press release. “This collection of sculptures and portraits and paintings will be an excellent complement to our gallery and a beneficial focus of training in our art history courses.”

The gift by Walters includes 152 pieces of African American art and the collection includes original pieces, sculptures, rare prints, photographs, and pieces from notable eras, including the Harlem Renaissance. “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. “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.” 

Patricia Walters started her art collection in the late 1980s, collecting most of her pieces after 2002. The collection features artists like Robert S. Duncanson, Edward M. Bannister, Grafton Tyler Brown, Aaron Douglas, Norman Lewis, and Romare Bearden, as well as contemporary artists like Kehinde Wiley, Barkley Hendricks, Kerry James Marshall, and others. 

“Dr. Walters was a giant among scholars here at Howard University, nationally and internationally, and this endowed chair is designed to be a reflection of his unique history as an activist, a political strategist and a trailblazing academic professor. This gift comes at the perfect moment to expand our students’ involvement in the political conversations of our time,” said Frederick.