Walter Fauntroy
Walter Fauntroy

Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer

Congressman Fauntroy is the only living individual in that famous photo of President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 with Dr. King by the President’s side. In the spirit of Daniel, he stood up to Congressman John Macmillan of South Carolina and paved the way for D.C. Home Rule, proclaiming upon the defeat of Macmillan, “Johnny Mac ain’t comin’ back!”

He served as vice chair of the first appointed D.C. Council and was the first non-voting member of Congress, representing the District of Columbia. He chaired a sub-committee and participated in the full committee that investigated the assassinations of Dr. King and President Kennedy. Many Black elected officials throughout the South will give credit to Congressman Fauntroy for their ascension. By super majorities in the U.S. House and Senate, he played the central role in passage of a proposed constitutional amendment to provide senators and voting representatives for the people of Washington, D.C. He has been a constant critic of the policies and practices of the Federal Reserve Board. Long before Menachem Begin, the former Prime Minister of Israel, publically hugged Yasser Arafat, Congressman Fauntroy, consistent with his religious beliefs, did so. One Thanksgiving Eve he joined with labor leader Bill Lucy, then attorney now Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Activist Mary Francis Berry and Africa expert Randall Robinson, the latter two with Fauntroy surrendering themselves to arrest and all exposing the contradiction of apartheid in South Africa. With radio personality Joe Madison, he journeyed to strife torn Sudan, undaunted by the dangers there. Along the way, he made many friends. Along the way, he made many enemies.

As all of us, he is not without flaws. Nonetheless, the good Congressman Fauntroy has done surely far outweighs those frailties. He brought the promise of spring, the joy of summer and the awakening of fall to so many of us. Now that winter has entered his life, it is our turn to respond. Ironically, the project on which he is now working in the far away Middle East, the project that takes him from his family, friends and all of us, is aimed at ending world hunger and promoting a green planet. Chopping down D.C.’s tallest tree runs counter to those vital goals.

Upon his return, the inquiries can be made and the speculation can be addressed. For now, those of us who know the long legacy he has left and even those who do not can collectively ensure that his historic home continues to give comfort to his wife and will house him when he reappears.

Tax deductible contributions (check with your tax advisor) can be made payable through the National Congress of Black Women (NCBW) to the “Walter E. Fauntroy Family Fund,” 1250 4th Street, SW, Suite WG-1, Washington, D.C. 20024. All monetary donations will only be used to keep up the mortgage payments on the home and provide for needed repairs. If enough money is raised, the group organizing this effort will determine how a more permanent solution can be reached.

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