Author: Charlie Lawing

writer, researcher, and retired educator

Wyatt Tee Walker (1929–2018)

Wyatt Tee Walker was a civil rights activist, author, and religious leader. After earning his master of divinity degree from Virginia Union University in 1953, Walker became the pastor of Gillfield Baptist Church in Petersburg. During the 1950s, he served as the president of the Petersburg branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was the state director of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Virginia, and founded the Petersburg Improvement Association. In 1960 he was appointed chief of staff to Martin Luther King Jr. and served as the first full-time executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Walker was instrumental in the fund-raising campaigns of the SCLC early in the 1960s and he helped formulate and analyze various protest strategies. He left the SCLC in 1964 and went on to serve as the pastor of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem, New York, for thirty-seven years. Following his retirement in 2004, he returned to Virginia, where he died in 2018.


Irene Langhorne Gibson (1873–1956)

Irene Langhorne Gibson, a native of Danville, Virginia, chaired the Child Planning and Adoption Committee of New York’s State Charities Association for twenty-five years. She founded the New York branch of the Southern Women’s Educational Alliance, was a member of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and helped found and was a director of the Protestant Big Sisters, on whose board she served for many years. Though she was a politically active and influential spokeswoman throughout her life, she may best be known as the incarnation of the Progressive Era‘s model “New Woman”—the “Gibson Girl,” a social and fashion template created and popularized by her famous illustrator husband, Charles Dana Gibson.