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Walter organized student volunteers to work with Baltimore's inner-city poor.

He had been influenced by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS),

which had socialist leanings. SDS wanted to mobilize the unskilled

and the unemployed to fight for social justice. 



Walter Hall Lively


Civil Rights Activist & Black Liberationist   


By Rudolph Lewis


He made you a bigger and better person than you believed yourself to be. The man I am about to tell you a story about made you feel that the world could be a better place than it was, than the rat-infested holes many were forced to live in because of their color and their class. The starvation wages that many of the poor of Baltimore received were shameless. He believed that the poor of Baltimore, those who did the work nobody else wanted to do, were deserving of more than businessmen and politicians would allow.

The wrongheadedness and recalcitrance of these forces of power required critical conflict. By all well-meaning souls, these men of privilege and self-interest had to be engaged to do justice We each, he believed, had a responsibility, a duty, to reach out to the poor and the poor reach out to each other in unity and power. We all had the responsibility to work for a better arrangement than the existing one of the crudest exploitation and a political oppression based on race and class. Much of the grief and anguish of ghetto life could be eliminated with the good will of all sectors of the community -- academia, church, unions, community groups, businesses, and government.

 I speak of Walter Hall Lively (1942-1976). He built no lasting institutions. All those fell by the wayside, for whatever the reason.

The 80s and the 90s--the era of the "me" and "do your own thing" generations would have been foreign and unthinkable to him. Many, nevertheless, knew him and desired to be in his presence and were touched by him.

 From 1964 to the 1974, Walter was probably the most well-known and recognizable Negro in Baltimore. He was known by the highest political figures in the state as well as the most lowly on Gay Street or Pennsylvania Avenue, the petty hustler as well as the storefront church madam. He was one of them. He could stir them up and he could quiet them down. He rubbed elbows with gangsters as well as the polished businessmen of the Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Baltimore Committee. He was many things to many people.  

Leaders conferring--Walter H. Lively, Jr. discusses civil rights with veteran strategist and rights advocate Delegate Troy Brailey. Both men are credited with advances made by blacks in the Sixties.

In our age of cynicism, when each man wants to know what's in it for him or her, Walt would be an innocent idealist, lacking in the sophistication of the real deal. Yet he was no fool, let that be understood. He just had a big soul and a sense of rightness. His legacy is that he touched men's hearts and made them better men, not only for themselves but for the world we all must live in. The list would include Fred D. Mason, Bob Moore, Kinya Kiongozi,  Robert "Kaki" Mc Queen, and Melvin Brown. Many others, including me, came under Walt’s influence. He inspirited lots of people and from all walks of life.

The Run for City Council

Two months before I met Walt, I had just turned nineteen. He was twenty-four or maybe twenty-five. He seemed much older then. He was only thirty-four years old when he left us and now I’ve grown old enough to be his father. But Walt was born old, like it is with some men, ancient as the mountains. Walt was my first tutor, the first to introduce me to Baltimore and Baltimore politics.

 It was my third year of school in Baltimore when in October 1967 Walt came to Morgan State College and spoke at the Student Center. It was about the same time that SNCC’s Stokley Carmichael came chanting "black power" and Baltimore County’s Spiro Agnew came campaigning for the black vote to get into the governor’s mansion. Walter wanted Morgan students to join his campaign to become a councilman in East Baltimore.

In 1967, Negroes were about half of the population of Baltimore and in half of the six council districts they were half or more than half. These were poor working class and church-going Negroes. Men, women and children, many of them a generation from the rural South, living in the squalor of East Baltimore and West Baltimore below North Avenue. Little of the federal housing we see today existed. The marks of oppression were heavy in this population.

Though Negroes were half of the population, they were not the ruling half. They were the lower half. They were not even half of the City Council. Negroes controlled only the Fourth District, that which existed in the Pennsylvania Avenue area, which used to be center of the Negro entertainment district. The First and Third Districts were clearly white and working class, many ethnic groups—Eastern and Southern Europe.

The Second (Gay Street and Hopkins Hospital), Fifth (Edmondson Village), and Sixth (Cherry Hill area) were the other political areas in contest. Walt and others believed that the white democratic club in the Second District was most vulnerable.

For Walter had been working in the Gay Street/Broadway area since 1964 when he and a group of interracial students from Morgan, Goucher, and Hopkins formed Union for Jobs and Income Now (U-JOIN) had been working with the poorest of the poor on issues of housing, unemployment, welfare, and business opportunities.

He was well-known and well-liked, if not, at least by some, well-loved. He lived among them as one of them. They knew he could have had more if he were not concerned for them. They wanted and needed to believe in someone. And Walt was their man. Like them, he was resourceful and like many of the poor, he was daring, resilient, and deceptive—like the folk has always had to be.

Like the state of Maryland, Baltimore, is/was a Democratic town. If a candidate won in the September primaries, he was a shoe in, because voters in Baltimore voted Democratic. The 1967 September primary produced two of the three member of an "all-white slate, Clement J. Prucha, an incumbent, and Joseph V. Mach, a former state senator.

Robert L. Douglass, the Negro engineer and systems analyst, came in second in the Democratic primary to earn a place on the November ballot. That both Mach and Prucha might sit in the Baltimore City Council that represented a black Baltimore that was half of the population was, for Walter, an outrage. Something had to be done. His work with the poor, low waged black workers in East Baltimore for the last three years qualified him more than these fellows of the all-white slate. For he knew that they would do nothing about black poverty and powerlessness in the Second district.  

Walter came up with the scheme to run for a council seat in the Second on the Republican ticket. Republicans do not win in Baltimore. But Walter figured that with the right combination of factors and conditions a Republican could win in Baltimore. It was Spiro Agnew, however, who proved him right.

Theodore R. McKeldin is shown giving his personal endorsement to the 2nd district candidacy of Walter H. Lively for City council in 1967. Here the former mayor and governor not only backs his endorsement for an AFRO photographer, but drapes a brotherly arm around Mr. Lively's shoulders to prove it. (This image was painted by Kaki, based on Afro photo.)

Walter was registered as an Independent. He, however, convinced Republican mayoral candidate Arthur Sherwood and a member of the Second District Republican State Central Committee to run him in the general election as a republican candidate. Irvin C. Alexander, one of the three Republican nominees, resigned to make room for Walter to run.

The decision was announced on October 4, 1967 (a Wednesday), in The Sun as follows:

Walter H. Lively, the militant young Negro civil rights leader, will be nominated to fill the vacancy on the Republican councilmatic ticket in Baltimore’s Second district. . . . Mr. Lively’s nomination, which is to made formal tomorrow at a meeting of the committee, will be a first in the recent history of Baltimore politics. Never in memory has a major party put forward as a standard bearer a civil rights activist of the Lively type.

The prospective candidate is currently director of the Union for Jobs and Income Now, a militant group which, as Mr. Lively put it yesterday, ‘is designed to involve poor people in solving their own problems involving jobs, housing, and welfare. He has been a leader of civil rights demonstrations and, on occasion, has been placed under arrest.

Walt was nothing is not persuasive. The Republicans had nothing to lose and everything to gain. They were thrilled by the very real possibility that Walter could outstrip Macha in the general election It was an odd coalition of liberal and moderate Democrats and Republicans, restless neighborhood people, and militant interracial college students.

Walt made himself presentable. He went to the flea market bought a couple of suits, white shirts, and shoes. Altogether he spent about $35. This was his campaign budget and on that he ran. That is to say, he ran on his character and ingenuity. One writer wrote: "he wears white shirts with button down collars under a set of Ivy league tweeds. His hair, once shaggy and uncombed, now sits parted and crop." Walter was malleable. He could be anything; he could do anything. Many believed it. And thus many expected very much of him. Maybe too much. Maybe I did also.

But it was near election day that I first met Walter Lively and his wife Lydia; and then Bob Moore, who worked with Walter in U-JOIN before joining SNCC. It was after Bob went to prison that I spent most of my time then with Walt and Fred Mason developing Liberation House Press and a black bookstore

The conservative and civil rights opponents considered Walter the biggest danger to the white community. Walter believed he could the black vote, but he had to get it out to vote. He got the volunteers. But he needed a margin.

Walt set out to show a large number of whites living in the district that he is not an extremist but an idealist. He sipped tea with Bolton Hill matrons. The charmed ladies of Bolton Hill thought he would be a refreshing and welcome addition to the council.

Walt explained that his campaign was "based on whether or not a council can be elected that will carry out the programs of either mayoral candidate. For there is an undue burden on people who can least afford it – homeowners, renters, and small wage earners." He received the support of the Republican Spiro Agnew and former Governor Theodore R. McKeldin. Out of 16,000 to 17,000 votes cast for the top three positions Walter lost by only 3500 votes, with less than thirty days to organize and campaign with no money.

 Personal Background

Walter was born and raised in Philadelphia. He was the oldest of eight children. His home from eight (8) to eighteen (18) was Philadelphia's Tasker Homes, one of the city's earliest public housing projects. He, his siblings, and his parents shared a small apartment. His father left home when Walt was thirteen (13), never to return.

Walter's father was resourceful. Though he never finished high school, he managed to get to college and become an accountant. "For a couple of years," according to Walt, "we were an aspiring bourgeois family. He was fairly light and he started getting promoted. they were putting him up front as the official company Negro. then he developed into a heavy drinker." When his father left, his mother, also fair-skinned, and her children had to go on welfare.

Walt helped the family by working at odd jobs. He worked in stores from the time he was twelve (12). Possibly, such enterprise provided the opportunity for him to become skilled at talking and communicating with people from all walks of life. He later got a job as a helper on a huckster wagon and gradually took over the business when the huckster, who like to drink, had trouble getting up early enough in the morning to beat him to the wagon.

He got the huckster business organized. He left the inner city where he lived and went into the townhouse area. According to Walt, "you could boost prices up there. You might say we polished up our class analysis. We're take the same fruit, but fix it up in nice little boxes. later we went out to the real bourgeois part of town where my aunt was a maid--we got all the maids organized to buy my stuff."

In 1960, Walter graduated from South Philadelphia High School. Two noteworthy incidents occurred before Walter finished his pre-college studies. When he was fourteen years old, in 1956, after hearing his peers sitting around complaining, Walter organized a picket line to protect the monetary practice of a newspaper distributor, and won their grievance. In the second incident, he learned that race mattered, even among friends. Walter lived in a very multicultural section of South Philly. Not long before he graduated from high school, there was a killing of a white kid by a black kid. he noticed that his white friends began to behave differently toward him as if he had killed the white kid.

The summer after his high school graduation, Walter worked on construction jobs. From the fall of 1960 to the spring of 1961, he worked as a lab technician and attended night school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied "logic, reading, writing, and arithmetic.) Though his formal study was interrupted by his participation in the civil rights struggle, I, as well as others who knew him, was impressed by his breath of knowledge. he seemed to know something about everything and could carry on an intelligent conversation on almost any topic. many believed, moreover, Walter could do and accomplish whatever he set his mind on.

From 1961 to 1962, Walter participated in Freedom Rides in Maryland on Route 40 and farther down the Eastern Seaboard. It was in 1961 that he first came to Baltimore. he spent a night or two in the Elkton jail. he was jailed twenty-two (22) times for his civil rights activity. His longest stay in jail was six days in North Carolina.

By the fall of 1962, Walter was back at the University of Pennsylvania. There he joined the Student Peace Union, an organization that "pushed for an end to bomb tests and a test-ban treaty, and all that jazz." On campus, Walter also organized a University NAACP chapter. In Philadelphia, he also organized a chapter of Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). At twenty-one years old, Walter was chosen to be the Philadelphia director for the March on Washington (1963).

U-JOIN: The Struggle for Baltimore's Poor

Walt came to Baltimore for a little while in 1961 with the Freedom Rides and after the March on Washington in August 1963, he came to stay. Maybe he understood that there was a vacuum in militant Negro leadership in Baltimore and thus there was a place in the city for him and his skills as an organizer. He came to Baltimore with a unique approach.

Walter organized student volunteers to work with Baltimore's inner-city poor. He had been influenced by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which had socialist leanings. SDS wanted to mobilize the unskilled and the unemployed to fight for social justice. Most in the organization did not know how to do that among black workers, many of whom had arrived from the South within that present generation.

Walter actually put the notion into practice. He pulled together a multiracial group of students from Goucher College, Morgan state, and Johns Hopkins to work in the "ghetto," the black slum areas, primarily East Baltimore. 

By 1964 Union for Jobs and Income Now (U-JOIN) was born. with its headquarters on Gay Street, U-JOIN was described as a private grassroots organization that attempted to help the poor to help themselves.

The initial focus of U-JOIN was a criticism of poverty program as it was organized in Baltimore. The prime criticism was that the program was patriarchal and irrelevant in how it sought to assist the poor. "Talking about the poverty program," Walt told the local papers, "is like talking about a dying woman. You can't be truthful and discreet at the same time." None of the original eleven (11) members of the Community Action Commission was poor.

Walter, as executive director of the Urban Coalition, is shown leading a 1968 protest march in front of Maria's carry-out restaurant. A restaurant employee shot at a Negro youth with several shotgun blasts. In response, the owner George P. Xanthos fired his son and several other employees including his daughter-in-law, and night manager.

In October 1965, the militant organization forced Buddy young, former Colt halfback, to resign as poverty program commissioner. Walt had no regrets about this action against the then popular and well-known Negro. "He was an Uncle Tom," Walt explained, "controlled by white people. We knew if he missed three meetings in a row, he was off the commission. We wanted them to put poor people on it." By 1968, there were twenty-one (21) people on the commission; as a result of Walt and U-JOIN, ten (10) of them were poor people.

U-JOIN also advised people who received unemployment of their rights and helped them to collect money due them. In May 1966 U-JOIN began to tackle the housing situation by organizing a petition for a new provision in the housing code to outlaw potbelly stoves, unvented gas heaters, and manual hotwater heaters. The landlords defeated the measure.

In June 1966, U-JOIN proposed a program to put money in the hands of the poor. They wanted to hire 99 men from the ghetto for a beautification program. City Council never adopted the program. To show up the city, U-JOIN sponsored clean-up programs and built playgrounds on vacant lots.

By August 1966, U-JOIN had wrenched a major concession from the People's Court, traditionally a rent collection agency. Walt had encouraged renters to strike, to withhold their rents in escrow. A People's Court Judge upheld  the escrow and another would do the same. In November 1966, however, the Supreme Bench of Baltimore ruled the judge could not hold money in escrow. later, an escrow bill was passed.

By late 1966, U-JOIN had organized independent neighborhood groups. Rescuers from Poverty, organized to help welfare recipients, was set up in June 1966. It also sought to open up job opportunities and increase welfare grants. In 1967 Tenants for Justice in Housing was also organized. During its 1966 rent-strike campaign, U-JOIN also conducted a voter registration drive.

Also, during this same period the Self-Help Housing Program was organized. it sought to help poor people with housing disputes with landlords and to improve neighborhood sanitation. It was the first poverty program ever drafted by residents of the area themselves. Jim Griffin, i believe, headed up this organization which had its office on North Avenue near Greenmont Avenue and Barclay Street.

Through a program of "responsible radicalism" Walter Lively had changed the chemistry of the life of the poor in the Gay Street and the Pennsylvania areas. The poor of Baltimore gained confidence in itself and its latent power. It was Walter's view that "fighting for bread and butter and a good roof is a fight for freedom."

U-JOIN continued to sharpen its tactics and focus. As a result of many shouting matches at City Hall, Walter Lively made a name for himself among the poor and the powerful in the state. Walter's run for political office was just another tactic developed by U-JOIN to put poor people into political action to improve their status and raise the consciousness of the community. But many misunderstood, especially the powerful and the professional flunkies and opportunists, his motivation and thus misjudged him. This fact will become more evident.

SNCC, CORE, & Black Militancy

Late 1967 Bob Moore returned to Baltimore (his hometown) from Atlanta, Georgia, and the Deep South where he worked for civil rights for two or three years with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). (Read essay on Bob Moore, "Forty Years of Determined Struggle.") On his return, Bob, who had worked with U-JOIN before he left Baltimore, set up a SNCC office at 432 E. North Avenue and raised the cry of "black control of black communities."

To save expenses and refocus its efforts to accommodate the Black Power movement U-JOIN shared office space with SNCC on North Avenue. With the rise in black consciousness, Walter was no longer interested in developing and sustaining a multiracial organization. U-JOIN faded into the background while Walter developed other vehicles to heighten the struggle.

The building at 432 E. North Avenue later became the home of Liberation House Press, a print shop geared for movement activities and a training ground for the young black men Walter drew to his various programs. The press developed more fully after two events. Baltimore's four-day rebellion (April 4-8, 1968), a response to the assassination of Martin Luther King who was-loved for his fight for worker's rights (especially in Memphis, Tennessee, with garbage workers), found the press in its nascent stages. Yet equipped to print leaflets to close shops on Greenmont, Gay, Pennsylvania and Mondawmin (all black shopping areas) to honor King's death. With the decline of SNCC, Bob Moore joined the union movement, specifically the union for Baltimore garbage workers and then Local 1199.

Then there was CORE, a major militant player about town. Like U-JOIN, CORE had its office on gay Street during the years 1966 up until the riots. It became more militant in its demands on the city when it changed its local leadership the summer of 1967 from Walter S. Brooks to Danny Gant. With its national organizers, CORE attempted to find and develop local leadership.

Danny Gant impressed me with his militancy and outrageousness. For some reason or another, I went with Danny Gant (I was then with SNCC) to Mayor D'Alesandro's office and Danny sat down and put both feet on the mayor's desk. For me, then, it was an extraordinary act. Maybe it was a kind of one-upmanship in that SNCC and its cry of "Black Power" drove many to the left, to more militant and radical acts. The mayor, however, made no comment about Danny's feet, as if it were a small matter or an exhibition that was tolerable.

Walter's run for office also had an impact on CORE. Lincoln O. Lynch, CORE's associate national leader, described Walter as a prototype for political candidates whom CORE wished to discover and to back in its efforts to develop a "strong black political consciousness." But there were no such people as Walter waiting to be discovered. Walter had a history and a record of struggle, with CORE and other groups. Lynch believed that Walter would be an excellent  candidate in ten years for Baltimore's first black mayor.

Urban Coalition: The Liberal White Response

With other major cities exploding in flames and with U-JOIN locally highlighting the nexus of poverty, race, and powerlessness, Baltimore's liberal elite was forced to make an attempt to get on top of the problem. They were familiar with the Kerner Commission Report which had outlined the devastating effects of institutional racism.

 By December 20, 1967, leaders in business, labor, civil rights, education, religion, and government had come together to form the "Urban Coalition." Its first meeting, however, occurred only April 16, 1968, almost two weeks after the city's racial conflagration. Many in the public felt that the organization was thus created as an "anti-riot group." Former Governor Theodore R. McKeldin was named chairman of the Urban Coalition. Two vice-chairmen were named, both popular and well-known Negroes: Parren J. Mitchell, the city's anti-poverty director and Homer E. Favor, director of Urban Studies at Morgan States College. Gilbert Rosenthal, president of the Baltimore Association of Commerce, was named as secretary of the Coalition and Wilmer V. Beall, president of the Maryland Council of Churches, was named treasurer.

Photo: Theodore R. McKeldin.,former mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland

With his respectable run for City Council in October and November 1967, Walter, then the leading Negro activist for the poor, was named executive director of the Urban Coalition. the executive director was scheduled to be paid $13,000; the chairman of the coalition, $20,000. McKeldin, however, rejected the salary. In addition to Walter, the Coalition also hired an administrative director at $9,500 and two secretaries.

The objective of the Coalition was to diagnose slum problems of housing, economic development, job and legislation and to recommend corrective medicine. the naive view was that the Coalition would "seek to find out what is wrong and correct it." How these problems were to be corrected in a timely manner was never really made clear. For in a sense, those in the Coalition, though liberal; were part of the problem. And, thus, the leader of the poor, namely, Walter, was placed in a situation that he too would become part of the problem. But Walter was time enough for such traps. His home was in the briar patch.

The city was a partner in the Coalition and there were promises that the City council would help to finance the Coalition to the tune of $20,000. the political conservatives and right wing elements in the City Council, which included Mach and Prucha (Second District) and Reuben Caplan (Fifth District) and the state legislature, which included John A. Kutowski and Joseph M. Wyatt, did not attack the Urban Coalition itself. These reactionary elements attacked Walter Lively, the executor director.

This reactionary group of politicians was a "subversive." Moreover, the police had arrested Walter during the "riots." They found Walter present at several fires, and arrested him for arson. Walter, however, was released and the charges dropped for they had no proof. In addition, Walter had assisted General Gelston of the National Guard in the Pennsylvania area in getting people of the street. Reuben Caplan leveled another attack. He charged that Walter had called a State Senator a "white gangster."

These reactionary elements decided to make their voices heard by a decrease in the city's contribution by the amount of Walter's salary. William Boucher III, director of the Greater Baltimore Committee, went before the City Council to plead for the city's full financial participation. Moderate members of the City Council, such as City Council President William Donald Schaefer and City Comptroller Hyman Pressman, were also apprehensive about Walter's part in the Coalition. The City council, thus cut the funds, but they were restored by then Mayor Tommy D'Alesandro.

The Coalition office was on the 27th floor of the new 222 Saint Paul in downtown Baltimore. I visited the office once while Walter was director. It was a long way from Gay Street or from North Avenue. The office was sparse and sterile. He was operating on a small budget of less than $50,000 a year which went mainly into salary and the lease of office space. The liberal elite associated with the Urban Coalition certainly had a different notion than Walter to what purpose the Coalition would serve.

Walter saw the Coalition as a means to heighten the contradictions between the poor and the rich, the powerful and the powerless. Walter told one reporter that the Coalition sought to increase the power of low-income neighborhoods. The Coalition, according to Walter, would not be "going in and paternalistic helping people." Walter wanted the Coalition to be a kind of U-JOIN on a larger scale with a bigger budget and powerful men behind him.

Deep down, the liberal political elite expected that Walter wanted a soft, cushy position in which he could make a career for himself and continue to rub elbows with the rich and the powerful, to place himself in a position to make another run for political office. Walter wanted to develop, however, more effectively "independent and radical approaches" to the problems of the poor. The Coalition would differ from a civil rights organization by having more money and management skills at its disposal; differ from government by lacking restrictions on its political and financial dealings.

Walter's dream was to create in Baltimore a city that was "made up of unions of self-supporting neighborhoods."


These neighborhoods initially would be channeled funds and techniques by the Coalition. Walter wanted millions of dollars to flow into the slums and into the pockets of the poor. Walter pursued a dream. he did what one could even if others around or allied to him had other plans. The Urban Coalition, of course, did not work and came to nothing. For Walter was not a patsy, looking out for self-interest.

Walter stayed with the Urban Coalition barely six months. By November 1968, Walter resigned in protest because the City Council did not confirm Walter P. Carter as the head of the city's Community Action Agency, the Model Cities Program. Some may think that such an action on Walter's part was reckless, especially since he had a wife and a child. But Walter also knew that Baltimore's power elite was going to drag its feet in doing anything to change the power equation in Baltimore.

Walter without beard and with coat and tie, his election gear

While executive direction of the Coalition, Walter helped to settle the strike of Baltimore's sanitation workers. With his exit from the Coalition, Walter worked a short stint with the International Union of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in its efforts to organize city workers.

Doing the Right Thing: Closing the Book

In late 1967 or early 1968, Walter married Lydia Stancil, a Morgan State coed. Their son Malik was born in about 1969. They had a place, I believe, in the 1000 black of Broadway, near Hopkins Hospital. I worked with Walter until about 1971. At that time I became a staff member of Local 1199, which I had done some volunteer work in the 1969 organizing campaign. There were others who followed me. Some of them included Lee Uhuru and Kinya, who had worked with the cultural nationalists of Soul School, located in the Freemont-Edmondson Avenue area.

All of us who worked full-time with Walt and his projects were on a kind of subsistence pay. We were a part of the movement to make this a better world and we believed that a better world was coming. All of them were in our late teens or early twenties. We were indeed idealist. So Walt not only had a number of young guys who were with him in his projects to take care of, he also had his own family. For Walter the struggle to raise the consciousness for social justice was foremost in his mind. He did not seek the bourgeois life to his wife's disappointment and eventually to her hurt.

Walter never had very much materially for himself or his wife and son. he lived a meager existence. Much of the money he accumulated was returned to projects geared to achieve social justice. He wanted a life larger than the mundane desires of men, to stand for social ideals of justice, equality, and brotherhood. On the practical side, to remain a leader of his time he knew he needed to retain his credentials with all of the elements of the movement -- the nationalists, the Negro middle-class leaders, New Left whites, young black intellectuals, and the black poor. Most of all he wanted to maintain his true calling as a representative of the poor. This indeed he accomplished in his short life of thirty-four years.

Several of us became board members of a non-profit corporation which was used to write grants. Some money was received from Cummins Engine. Printing presses were acquired for Liberation House Press. The old Pratt Library building in the 800 block of Broadway was acquired for a black history museum. Walter also purchase land in Pennsylvania that was used as a retreat for movement people and inner-city kids.

None of these projects were ever fully developed. Quarrels and disagreements developed among the guys who worker with Walter. We all however loved him and respected him for his commitment, his knowledge, and his big soul. One at a time, we each drifted away from him and the subsistence movement life he lived and that others lived with him. Many of us were concerned about our futures. All that was beyond Walt, for he did not seek to plan our lives or counsel us about our individual situations. He expected much of us, maybe too much.

Either you were with him or you were not. I believe he understood the situation many of us were wrestling with. But he couldn't really be our father, at most, only a big brother. He helped many of us, personally. He lend out thousands of dollars that were never paid back, including me. The last time I saw him he teased me about the money; but it was not the money, but rather he felt I had abandoned him and not kept in contact with him. It is one of my few regrets.

But the movement seemed adrift. Walter had made plans, but I did not know how my life fit into all of that. Though we worked collectively with Liberation House Press, decisions were not made collectively, and the incriminations began. And so I split.  For the times had changed. After he left the Coalition, Walter no longer sought media attention. He had no listed telephone number and made himself scarce in his own activities with Liberation House Press.

Reverend Vernon Dobson, a civil rights activist, then pastor of Union Baptist Church on Druid Hill made these comments at Walter's death:


I guess I saw him a month ago. I can't say he struck me as anything, but he never did. When other young persons were caught up in clothes, he over-dramatized his poverty. You couldn't judge by his clothes or his countenance. . . . you couldn't pin him down either. . . . he dealt with you, not the other way around. According to the way his mind was set, he let you into his living room or he kept you waiting in the anteroom. the last time I saw him, he kept me in the anteroom.

Walter's mind was massive and his energy boundless and had a thousand things going on at once. He needed a trusted administrative assistant to manage his papers and his affairs. But no such person was available. At his death, uncashed checks were found under stacks of paper. Money was always a means for him rather than an end in itself.

Walter died at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was there ill for a few days. I did not go see him, for I did not expect him to leave us so soon. Fred Mason told me he said the queerest thing, while he was on what would become his death bed, "Did you know Lenin never learned how to play, the piano?" Walter was fond of both Lenin, Trotsky, and Russian classical music, especially Shostakovich (1906-1975).

Walter got sick on his birthday, August 27, 1976. he died September 11, 6;30 in the morning, on an aneurysm, a cardio-vascular ailment. In another sense, one may said that he died of a broken heart. he could not effect the liberation of his people and he did not want to be a sell-out. Even with his vast powers, he realized, he was not able to accomplish all that he desired and decided to just give up the ghost. He was not be fully appreciated in life and maybe in death he might receive that recognition he rightly deserved.

Besides the former Lydia Stancil and his son Malik, Walter was survived by a sister, Mrs. Deborah Carter, of Philadelphia; three brothers, David, a student in North Africa, Donald, and Richard both of Philadelphia; his mother, Lillian, of Philadelphia and his father Walter H. Lively. His family took his remains back to Philadelphia.

Soon after Walt's death, there was a farewell program for him in Baltimore. I attended this secular program but did not speak. As I recall Bob Moore, Fred Mason, and Kinya Kiongozi, and maybe Reverend Dobson spoke a few kind words. None of us has really said goodbye to Walter. He remains in all our hearts. For we know he's still on the battlefield.

Walter would be amused by my reference to him as a "Christ." For I do not believe he was "religious" at all. He saw much harm that otherworldly religions have done. He spoke of the right or righteousness, of course. But I am stressing similarities. Like Christ he was for the poor and he sought liberation of the oppressed. And he sought what was just and equitable. He found these Christian ideals, however, in socialist ideologies, rather than capitalist-oriented ideologies. But the greatest similarity was his selflessness, his willingness to forego personal aggrandizement. But whatever are the proper accolades for Walter, clearly, he made great sacrifices for the powerless and the poor. If he were not God's son, indeed God smiled on him. His deeds are worthy of our emulation and truly he deserves our remembrance.

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What We Want

By Stokely Carmichael

Reverend Marion Bascom Civilrighting / A Christian Goon Squad in Black Baltimore

Clarence Logan and the Northwood Movement  / Chester Wickwire Desegregating Gwynn Oak Amusement Park

Roy Wilkins and Spiro Agnew in Annapolis  /  Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore Leaders 1968

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Walter Hall Lively /  Forty Years of Determined Struggle  / The Wayfarer 4th Quarter 1967 Black Baltimore

Putting Baltimore's People First  Dominance of Johns Hopkins   A Brief Economic History of Modern Baltimore

Understanding the Monumental City: A Bibliographic Essay on Baltimore History (Richard J. Cox)

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Obama and Black Americans: the Paradox of Hope—By Gary Younge—But for all the ways black America has felt better about itself and looked better to others, it has not actually fared better. In fact, it has been doing worse. The economic gap between black and white has grown since Obama took power. Under his tenure black unemployment, poverty and foreclosures are at their highest levels for at least a decade.

Millions of black kids may well aspire to the presidency now that a black man is in the White House. But such a trajectory is less likely for them now than it was under Bush. Herein lies what is at best a paradox and at worst a contradiction within Obama’s core base of support. The very group most likely to support him—black Americans—is the same group that is doing worse under him.—TheNation

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The End of Anger

A New Generation's Take on Race and Rage

By Ellis Cose

From a venerated and bestselling voice on American life comes a contemporary look at the decline of black rage; the demise of white guilt; and the intergenerational shifts in how blacks and whites view, and interact with, each other. In the heady aftermath of President Obama's election, conventional wisdom suggested that the bitter, angry, and destructive elements of discrimination were ebbing at last and America was becoming a postracial nation. . . . Weaving material from myriad interviews as well as two large and ambitious surveys that he conducted—one of black Harvard MBAs and the other of graduates of A Better Chance, a program offering elite educational opportunities to thousands of young people of color since 1963—Cose offers an invaluable portrait of contemporary America that attempts to make sense of what a people do when the dream, for some, is finally within reach as one historical era ends and another begins.—Ecco, 2011

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Here lies Jim Crow: Civil rights in Maryland

 By C. Fraser Smith

Though he lived throughout much of the South—and even worked his way into parts of the North for a time—Jim Crow was conceived and buried in Maryland. From Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney's infamous decision in the Dred Scott case to Thurgood Marshall's eloquent and effective work on Brown v. Board of Education, the battle for black equality is very much the story of Free State women and men. Here, Baltimore Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith recounts that tale through the stories, words, and deeds of famous, infamous, and little-known Marylanders. He traces the roots of Jim Crow laws from Dred Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson and describes the parallel and opposite early efforts of those who struggled to establish freedom and basic rights for African Americans.

Following the historical trail of evidence, Smith relates latter-day examples of Maryland residents who trod those same steps, from the thrice-failed attempt to deny black people the vote in the early twentieth century to nascent demonstrations for open access to lunch counters, movie theaters, stores, golf courses, and other public and private institutions—struggles that occurred decades before the now-celebrated historical figures strode onto the national civil rights scene.

Smith's lively account includes the grand themes and the state's major players in the movement—Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Lillie May Jackson, among others.—and also tells the story of the struggle via several of Maryland's important but relatively unknown men and women—such as Gloria Richardson, John Prentiss Poe, William L. "Little Willie" Adams, and Walter Sondheim—who prepared Jim Crow's grave and waited for the nation to deliver the body.Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008

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The Politics of Public Housing

Black Women's Struggles Against Urban Inequality

By Rhonda Y. Williams

There are far too few books from the perspective of poor black women, even fewer that give them the credit they deserve for pushing local, state, and federal governments to fulfill the promises of the New Deal and the War on Poverty. Rhonda William’s beautifully written and sweeping narrative makes fresh and important contributions to urban history, African-American women’s history, and the history of poverty policy in this country.—Annelise Orleck, author of Common Sense & a Little Fire

A remarkable piece of work, doing for Baltimore what Making the second Ghetto did for Chicago. Williams brings welcome new light to bear on the struggle of poor black women for respectability and inclusion, inclusion on their terms. Drawing on a rich data set covering forty years, Williams renders vivid portraits of individuals while also conveying a clear conception of the changing societal trends and public policies with which they had to contend.—Charles Payne, author of I’ve Got the Light of Freedom

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Related files:  Putting Baltimore's People First  Dominance of Johns Hopkins   A Brief Economic History of Modern Baltimore   Walter Hall Lively   Root Song 

New Day Poem  A Smokey Slow Drag   The Big Boys  Industrial Me   Poem at Central Booking      Afaa Michael Weaver at Pratt Library    Henry Nicholas on Social Justice

Last Man Standing  Understanding "Last Man Standing"   Portrait of Robert Moore