By Lynda Jones
Reverend Lucius Walker, Jr. a nationally renowned pastor and activist who began his career in Milwaukee, died on Sept. 7 at his home in Demarest, N.J. from an apparent heart attack according to his daughter, Gail Walker.
Walker gained national and international recognition in 1988 when he was shot and wounded aboard a civilian passenger boat, “Mission of Peace,” by terrorist “contras” in Nicaragua, who killed two members of the mission and were funded by the U.S. government. As a result, he started Pastors for Peace to educate people in the U.S. about how the government’s policies were affecting impoverished citizens of the Americas. He eventually led scores of Friendship Caravans delivering humanitarian aid to Chiapas, Mexico; post-Katrina New Orleans; Haiti; Central America; and Cuba. He was a leading practitioner of nonviolent civil disobedience and the social gospel to challenge “immoral” polices of our government, including over 47 years of U.S. economic sanctions designed to cause “hunger and desperation” in Cuba. “The Bible says feed the hungry, clothe the poor, “ Walker said on many occasions. “It doesn’t say to starve the Communists.”
Prior to making national and international headlines, Walker came to Milwaukee in the late 1950s while still a theology student, first serving as a youth director for the Milwaukee Christian Center on the south side. Before being ordained, he was called to serve by Hulburt Baptist church, an all-White congregation, also on the south side. During this time period in Milwaukee, Blacks were threatened even if they thought about stepping foot on the south side. He went on to serve as the founding director of Northcott Neighborhood House.
In April 1967 after witnessing an off-duty police officer accosting a Black youth, a large crowd gathered and he refused to move along as ordered by the officer. He instead was among those arrested and fought the charges. Judge Christ T. Seraphim later convicted Walker and fined him $10.00. Support poured out from hundreds of local priests, ministers and nuns who packed the courtroom. His character witnesses included former Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler and E. Michael McCann.