Display features letters by Dr. Martin Luther King

Published 9:16 am Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Cass County libraries of Howard, Edwardsburg and Cass District and Niles District Library in Berrien, along with Brenda Walker Beadenkopf of Edwardsburg are displaying pictures, quotes and memorabilia of her father, Charles Walker, who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Civil Rights Movement.

Walker is pictured with baseball great Jackie Robinson, with key civil rights leader Rev. James Lawson, mentors of King’s A. J. Muste and Glenn Smiley and chief organizer of the March on Washington, Bayard Rustin. These displays/exhibits are in honor of Black History Month.

Letters from King saying, “Mr. Walker has been close to developments in the struggle for racial justice ever since I first met him in Montgomery, in early 1956,” and calling him a man of “skill and understanding,” are featured, along with others saying, “We were very happy to have you visit Montgomery, and “I consider it a real personal privilege of having the opportunity of meeting you.”

King wrote, “Let me express my personal appreciation to you for the interest you have taken in our struggle,” and was grateful for Walker’s “moral support and Christian generosity” that gave his movement “renewed courage and vigor to carry on.”

In a letter in 1960, Rev. King wrote that Walker was a key figure in producing a very helpful pamphlet in 1957 called “A Perspective in Nonviolence” that had been used in the south, a pamphlet displayed in the libraries, some as copies and the original in the Niles Library.

In 1961, Walker published a handbook, a larger work, called “Organizing for Nonviolent Direct Action.”

A unique part of black history, not only the new handbook, is featured, but Beadenkopf also describes some of the history behind it — the role of a Philadelphia Quaker in supporting the Civil Rights Movement with nonviolence training and the writing of training materials. King also championed the nonviolent method and taught it, reminding people constantly of its Christian roots.

Walker insisted it was imperative the movement be conducted under the discipline of nonviolence, imperative on both moral and practical grounds. He points out in the beginning of the book that living in nonviolence means living more fully in the spirit, “which always seeks to break through the conventional and rehearsed response.”

In late March, the Edwardsburg Library and the Cass District Library will be hosting Beadenkopf with her power point presentation and “Organizing for Nonviolent Direct Action” book sale and dedication, dedicating the books to her deceased father and signing for him.

Beadenkopf, a national and international speaker and workshop leader on nonviolence, will be publishing her own book soon, the story of her father’s life, “A Quaker Behind the Dream, Charlie Walker and the Civil Rights Movement.”

Plans are in the works for further book readings and book signings at that time. For further information, look up Wikipedia article on Charles Coates Walker and Brenda’s web site brendabeadenkopf.com.