ColumnistsFaithLyndia GrantOp-EdOpinionReligion

THE RELIGION CORNER: Welcome Home, Walter Fauntroy!

Please join the Fauntroy Support Group as they sponsor an exciting District-wide “Benefit” tribute to Rev. Walter Fauntroy and his wife Dorothy on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 5 p.m. The celebration will be held at Israel Baptist Church and will feature renowned speakers and musical artists.

A committee, headed by Viola Bradford and co-Chair E. Faye Williams, president and CEO of The National Congress of Black Women, has organized this celebration to show special appreciation and love to the former Congressional delegate for his many years of service to the citizens of the District of Columbia and New Bethel Baptist Church, where he served as pastor for 50 years. On behalf of the committee, I’m inviting you to please come out to support this occasion!

Back in the mid-’80s, my family joined New Bethel Baptist Church when we lived in northeast D.C. He was my pastor, and it was a privilege to have attended New Bethel under his leadership.

When my company, Critique Career Management Services, opened our doors in northwest D.C. on Feb. 11, 1983, then-Congressman Fauntroy came out as our special guest speaker. The event was also attended by D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (our office was in her Ward 4 area) and late Council member Nadine P. Winters, who was across the street from us. I never will forget what he said that day: “Who are the parents of these four Grant Sisters who have chosen to open up this marvelous company in an effort to help our community find jobs, to write resumes? The parents are to be congratulated.”

The renowned civil rights activist’s history is as encompassing as his influence: Born in D.C., on Feb. 6, 1933, he graduated from Dunbar High School in 1952 before earning a bachelor’s degree in history from Virginia Union University in 1955 and a degree from Yale University Divinity School in 1958. While at Yale, Fauntroy married Dorothy Simms on Aug. 3, 1957. They have two children, Marvin Keith and Melissa Alice. Also during this time, Fauntroy met fellow theological students Martin Luther King Jr. and Wyatt Tee Walker.

Later in 1957, he became the D.C. branch director of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Fauntroy was the civil rights organization’s lobbyist in Congress until 1970, pushing for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Also during this time, Fauntroy coordinated several historic marches for civil rights, including the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965 and the Meredith Mississippi Freedom March in 1966.

In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Fauntroy vice chairman of the “White House Conference on Civil Rights,” an organization that explained civil rights goals to Congress and the public. A year later, he was appointed to his first political office when Johnson named him vice chairman of the D.C. City Council, a post he held until 1969.

In 1971, Fauntroy was elected to serve as delegate of the District of Columbia and a member of the United States House of Representatives. Upon assuming this position, he became the first person in 100 years to represent the District in Congress. In this position, Fauntroy proposed two pieces of legislation important to his constituents: the Washington D.C. Home Rule Act of 1975 and the Washington D.C. Voting Rights Amendment of 1978. The amendment did not become law because too few states ratified it in the 7-year time frame required by the U.S. Constitution.

The list of accolades and accomplishments goes on — as does the admiration. Welcome home to Rev. Walter E. Fauntroy — a true patriot!

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Lyndia Grant

A seasoned radio talk show host, national newspaper columnist, and major special events manager, Lyndia is a change agent. Those who experience hearing messages by this powerhouse speaker are changed forever!

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